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Safeguard Yourself with Help from AARP's Free Fraud Watch Network

Safeguard Yourself with Help from AARP's Free Fraud Watch Network

By Larry Lehmer

Des Moines, Iowa - Fraud and identity theft are on the rise across the nation and in Iowa. Not surprisingly, older Iowans are prime targets for scammers and con men. Whether on the Internet, on the phone or on your front porch, everyone is a potential target.

To stop these unscrupulous predators, AARP has launched the Fraud Watch Network. It's free of charge to AARP members and non-members alike and people of any age. The Fraud Watch Network provides:
* Watchdog Alert emails that deliver breaking scam information.
* Prevention tips based on the latest information from experts.
* An interactive map with the latest law enforcement warnings from each state.
* A phone number people can call to talk to volunteers trained to help fraud victims.
* Access to a network of people who are sharing their experiences with scams so they can help others protect themselves.

Identify theft may begin with something as simple as retrieving a credit card offer from the trash. Fraud often involves impersonation, like the current scam of a "grandchild" pleading for cash from a concerned "grandparent." In Iowa, some of the top areas for fraud and identity theft are debt collection, government documents or benefits, credit cards, phones or utilities.

A recent major national AARP study identified an online victim profile based on 15 key behaviors and life experiences that increases a person's vulnerability to online fraud. The study concluded that 34 million Internet users may be at risk. Victims were found to be more likely to engage in these behaviors:
* Clicking on pop-up ads
* Opening an e-mail from an unknown person
* Signing up for free trial offers

Victims were also found to more likely have had the following life experiences:
* Often or sometimes feeling isolated
* Loss of a job
* Suffered a "negative change in financial status" in the past two years

"Just as a weakened immune system lowers your resistance to disease, negative life events lower your resistance to fraud," said AARP Iowa State Director Kent Sovern. "That's why AARP launched the Fraud Watch Network - to connect people to experts, law enforcement and people like them who can help them spot and avoid scams."

Check out the site yourself at

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--Larry Lehmer of Urbandale, Iowa, is an author (The Day the Music Died), personal historian, former sports editor and AARP Iowa volunteer @larrylehmer

Ann Black




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