No one could have predicted the uncertainty that 2020 would bring. However, as this year ends, one thing that has been entirely predictable is that scammers have sought to take advantage for their own financial benefit. Read on for a roundup of the hot scams of 2020; you can always visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network’s Fraud Resource Center to learn more about these and other scams.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began taking hold in the spring, scammers jumped on it early — peddling masks and household cleaners that never arrived, phony remedies and sham investment opportunities. Other bad actors went so far as to set up fake drive-up testing sites where they collected cash, medical insurance or other personal information, while conducting fake swab tests. As the pandemic has evolved, so have the scams, including bogus work from home scams, stolen government stimulus payments, and fake contact tracing messages. Look for scammers hawking early access to the pending vaccines, too. Read more about COVID-19 scams here.
Every ten years, the decennial US Census takes place — and 2020 was no exception. While the population was being counted, scammers were counting on the Census to help line their own pockets. Scammers would contact targets, impersonating official US Census reps and threaten fines or even jail if they didn’t share sensitive personal information or pay money. Read about 2020 census scams here.
ONLINE SHOPPING SCAMS
The pandemic’s need for social distancing caught the already rising tide of online shopping, as more people have turned to online options for groceries and other needs. This was no surprise to scammers, who came up with an array of devious tactics. Bad actors continue to set up fake websites and post bogus ads to lure shoppers in for impossibly low-priced and in-demand items. They’ve become adept at sending convincing emails and text messages, impersonating legit retailers and package-delivery companies. They hope to gain access to your money or your sensitive personal information and they are having lots of success. Here's more on online shopping scams.
When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family and visit the Fraud Watch Network.
--- Kathy Stokes, AARP Fraud Watch Network