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How to protect yourself from scammers

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Fraudster

If you haven’t fallen victim to scam, there’s a great chance that your safety was born of sheer luck. Yes! Because we are all prone to getting scammed except that a little knowledge provides an advantage.

Yet, it is true that some personality traits make you a good pick for scammers. Based on a research from the AARP Fraud Watch Network, here are some characteristics that make people vulnerable to fraud:

1. You respect authority

Many common scams are perpetrated by crooks impersonating a police officer, an IRS or Social Security agent, or a court representative.

Always remember this: Government offices rarely call citizens to conduct business — and they never demand quick payment. If that’s what the caller wants, put aside your inclination to defer to authority figures. Just hang up.

2. You like to please people

One scam we’ve been seeing hits people at work and plays on your good nature. An email from a boss or coworker asks you to buy some expensive gift cards and take photos of the front and back of the card to get reimbursed. The email is actually from a scammer mimicking the real thing. Once he has the numbers from the gift cards, he uses them before the fraud is caught.

3. You are cocky

We often hear from victims, “I’ve never been defrauded. I thought I was too smart.” If you believe you are immune to being cheated, think again. Scammers are professionals — and endlessly creative.

4. You slipped up once

Sadly, if you have already been scammed, chances are good the fraud calls will increase. Thieves put your information on a “victim list” that gets sold to other scammers or criminal rings.

5. You’re friendly

Many victims who call us met their scammer on social media via a friend request. Try to limit social media contact to real friends and family, and turn down requests from people you don’t know.

6. You are under stress

We also get lots of calls from people who were tricked into giving away personal info while dealing with an illness or another stressful event. People who have recently lost a loved one are also vulnerable, especially if the obituary reveals details that a crook can use as bait. Be especially vigilant during times of crisis.

7. You’re lonely

The Fraud Watch Network has found that many scam victims report feeling lonely and isolated from family and friends. That makes them susceptible to the fake friendliness of professional thieves.

If you feel lonely or isolated, AARP and AARP Foundation have programs to help you connect with people in your community. Go to connect2affect.org.

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