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Staying Ahead of the Con Artists

The name of scam artists trying to con you via your phone or over the internet is increasing. They pose as IRS agents, anti-virus tech support, jury duty managers, bank verifiers and more.

Think you can spot a fraudsters? Most of us think we can, yet more people are getting scammed every day.

AARP has an online quiz that tests your ability to spot a phony. You can take it at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.

Cyber Scam Alert

With Wi-Fi everywhere now from the public library to the corner coffee shop, there are more opportunities for cyber punks to hack into your laptop tablet or mobile phone.

Here are some tips to keep your information safe when using public Wi-Fi:

1.) Don’t set your devices to automatically connect to pubic Wi-Fi

2.) Never access your bank accounts, credit card accounts or even your email while on public Wi-Fi

3.) Stick to your call phone’s providers Wi-Fi network if you’re accessing an online shopping website or any other site that requires personal information

4.) Check website addresses carefully and completely. Scam artists will create bogus sites that closely mimic real ones

Avoid These Vacation Time Scams

Have you received a phone call, text or email promising you a cruise or vacation getaway that sounds too good to be true?

Beware, it probably is.

If you receive an invite for a resort stay, airline tickets or other vacation come on via email, do not click on the link. Often times all you’ll get is malware. Or you may have to endure really hard-sell presentations for pricey travel and vacation clubs. And we don’t need to tell you never fall for any “free” offer that requires you to give up credit card numbers or personal information.

Tech Support Calling? Don't Answer!

Authorities warn that today’s biggest scam is the supposed call from “Tech support.” Fraudsters are racking up nearly $460 every 10 seconds for a yearly haul of $1.5 billion.

Here’s how the scam works.

You get a call from somebody claiming to be from “Microsoft,” “Windows” (a giveaway as Windows is the name of the operating system, not the company) or an anti-virus software company such as Norton or Symantec. The caller claims that software on your computer is sending them messages that you have very dangerous viruses on your computer. They can remove the viruses if you give them remote access to your computer.

What that remote access will really do is give the scam artists access to all your vital information, account numbers and passwords.

Here’s what you need to know:

1.) Companies like Microsoft and Symantec will never call you out of the blue. They just don’t.

2.) Anti-virus software is designed to catch and remove viruses all by themselves. There is no anti-virus software that alerts the home office and then requires a live tech support person to remove it.

Don’t fall for the scam. Either hang up or do what we do. Ask the caller if they think their mothers would be proud of how they’re spending their days as a thief who hides their true identity and tries to rip off old ladies.

Interest Rate Check-Up

Interest rates can work for us (when we’re saving or investing) or against us (when we’re buying cars or using our credit cards).

Here are some quick tips to make sure you getting the best rates in either case.

Car Loans: The rate you pay when you pay things like a new car depends on your credit score. If your score is above 740, you should be able to qualify for the lowest rates. Check your score (many credit card companies now furnish your score every month along with their invoice).

If you want to improve your score, visit MyFICO.com for helpful suggestions.

Mortgages: If it’s been a while since you last checked, find out what rate you’re currently paying. If you’re paying 1% or more over the rates banks are currently offering, it may be time to get with your bank or other lender and see if refinancing might lower your rate.

Credit Cards: If you’re a disciplined shopper, it can pay to take advantage of those 0% interest offers on balance transfers that credit card companies frequently offer. Just be aware that the transfer typically involves an up front interst charge, usually 2-3% of the balance being transferred. But if you can pay it off in the time allotted in the offer, you’ll still save far more interest.

Also it pays to shop around when getting credit cards as they can charge asignificantly different rates. To research rates and what card(s) might be best for you, visit credit.com or cardratings.com.

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