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MN considers 'organizing' protections for renters; Nikki Haley says 'I have a duty' to stay in race despite latest loss to Trump; MT teachers' union files pair of 'school choice' lawsuits.

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Donald Trump wins the South Carolina primary, but there's mixed feelings about what a second Trump term could mean, and President Biden addresses border issues with governors.

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David meets Goliath in Idaho pesticide conflict, to win over Gen Z voters, candidates are encouraged to support renewable energy and rural America needs help from Congress to continue affordable internet programs.

Advocates urge Marylanders to watch out for fraud this holiday season

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Monday, November 20, 2023   

With the holidays on the horizon, advocates are reminding older Marylanders to watch out for scams during the upcoming season.

Federal Trade Commission data through the first nine months of this year show more than 30,000 reported incidents of fraud in Maryland.

The most common type of consumer fraud in the state is the impostor scam, carried out online or on the phone either via voice call or text message, where a person pretends to represent a government agency, bank or credit card company.

Jen Holz, associate state director of outreach for AARP Maryland, said if they are contacting you, do not give out your information.

"Never, ever, ever give any identifiable information to anyone over the phone who has contacted you," Holz advised. "If you're not sure, and you think that this could be legitimate, go and look up the number to your bank or to your credit card company and call them back directly. And then say, 'Hey, did you call me? Is there a problem with my account?'"

The FTC ranks Maryland fourth in the nation for impostor scams. AARP Maryland hosts fraud-education events online in addition to periodic document-shredding events. For more information on both, visit AARP.org/MD.

As artificial intelligence has become more accessible to the masses, fraudsters have kept up. One of the most common impostor scams targeting older adults is the so-called "Grandparents scam" where the caller poses as a loved one in crisis, needing money. Current technology enables scammers to not only sound like a loved one, but with caller ID spoofing, even the phone number appears legitimate.

Holz added scammers often attempt to get paid in ways that are hard to trace, including cryptocurrency or gift cards.

"If they ask you for a gift card or to go buy a gift card to pay off a debt, then you know instantly without a shadow of a doubt, it is a scam," Holz stressed. "Gift cards are for gifts. They are not for payments."

In addition to impostor scams, the FTC tracks numerous types of fraud including online shopping, investments, job opportunities, debt management, sweepstakes, even office supplies. Holz pointed out the fraudsters are professionals and there are scams out there targeting just about anyone.

"Because these professional scammers are so good at what they're doing, it's happening to people of all types," Holz explained. "All levels of education, all ages, and what AARP is really trying to do is implement, this anti-victim shaming culture change if you will, to make sure that we're talking about the scammers as the problem and not the folks who have had this happen to them."

Disclosure: AARP Maryland contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Energy Policy, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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