This time, live representatives claim to be calling on behalf of “AARP Member Advantages,” asking you to “verify” personal information based on the lie that it’s a requirement of the U.S. government if you want to continue participating in AARP-related services such as insurance.
Nonsense! But more important, providing or confirming information such as your name, address and date of birth to unknown callers can be risky. These pieces of data could be used to open fraudulent credit accounts in your name.
Don’t be fooled. AARP calls its members with important legislative alerts, invitations to community events or telephone forums, and requests member opinions through scientific surveys. But AARP does not call members asking to verify sensitive personal and financial information that could be used for identity theft.
In this case, another sign of the scam is the incoming number displayed on caller ID: 202-653-8000, a nonworking number.
But that doesn’t mean these scammers haven’t done some homework. “The call came for my father who has Alzheimer’s, and he was asked for by his name,” says one Fraud Watch Network member, who tipped us off to this new scam. “But the phone number called is listed in my name – not his – since I’m my parents’ caregiver and they live with me.”
Because the member realized the caller’s claim - that her father’s personal information was “required by the U.S. government” to continue enjoying AARP benefits and programs - was completely bogus, she ended the call quickly. If you get a similar call, take the cue and hang up just as fast.
AARP is often the target of impostors behind scams that, unfortunately, attempt to prey on our members. Since this scheme surfaced last month, we continue to hear from members receiving robocalls claiming that AARP is providing medical alert devices - sometimes on the advice of their doctors and/or with the promise of $3,000 in coupons.
This ploy, which never addresses recipients by name (or those of their physicians), seeks your credit card information for shipping or activation fees for the “free” device. As the FTC and others bring some perpetrators of these illegal robocalls to justice, other crooks eagerly take their place.
“I received one ‘free’ alert robocall claiming to be from AARP on June 19 and another on July 19. I can’t wait until what happens on Aug. 19,” quips AARP member and Fraud Watcher Eleanor of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “Both times, a demanding voice urged that I push 1 to accept the ‘free’ offer or push 5 to refuse it.”
She wisely did neither and hung up. Pushing any button on the phone keypad just alerts the scammers of your working number for future calls.
In reviewing our files, we’ve noticed that summer seems an especially popular time for AARP name-dropping. Coincidentally, it was this week two years ago when AARP was spoofed in another scam that sought personal information, claiming it was needed for the targeted victim to receive a free gift card.
For information about other scams, sign up for the Fraud Watch Network. You’ll receive email alerts with tips and resources to help you spot and avoid identity theft and fraud, and gain access to a network of experts, law enforcement and people in your community who will keep you up-to-date on the latest scams in your area.