Watch Out for Online Fraud

AARP has advised its members to be careful as they use Internet services. For example, have you ever participated in the following online activities:

  1. Clicked on a pop-up ad?
  2. Opened an email from someone you didn’t know?
  3. Signed up for a free trial offer?
  4. Sold some merchandise in an auction?
  5. Sent funds through an Internet money transfer service?
  6. Posted your home address, phone number, vacation plans, names of children or grandkids on social media?

If so, you are more likely to be duped by a scam. AARP Washington state director Doug Shadel directed an AARP Fraud Watch Network survey of almost 12,000 Internet users to discern the differences between online fraud victims and nonvictims. According to the survey results, age does not play a factor. What does matter is engaging in the online activities above. The results also showed that victims often recently experienced a stressful event (such as a job loss or illness) and scammers target emotionally vulnerable people because it is easier to force them into making bad choices. (AARP Bulletin, March 2014)