How to Recognize Fraud


Number 1: You’re contacted out of the blue with an offer for free money or fast cash

If you receive an unsolicited offer like this, there’s a good chance that you’ve been targeted by a scam artist. Most scams of this nature rely on your response to their initial promise of lottery winnings, fast-cash from an easy work-at-home job, guaranteed returns from a hot new investment or an inheritance you didn’t know about, so that they can gain access to your personal information and solicit money from you.

 Number 2: You are pressured to act quickly

Scam artists are very good at pretending to have “limited time only” offers or “inside information” that is designed to get you to act quickly and make an irrational decision. Don’t fall for those tactics. If the offer is legitimate it will still be there tomorrow.

 Our third red flag is a really simple one: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is

Scam artists have a knack for making people believe that they’ll be better off if they take the deal. But what really happens is that the scammers are the ones who are better off — they leave with your money, and you’re left with nothing from the too-good-to-be-true promises that were made.


"ElderWatch Tips for Recognizing Senior Scams." AARP. Accessed May 01, 2019.


Once you recognize a potential scam, it’s important that you know how to refuse becoming a victim. An important thing to remember is to ask questions and take your time before ever making any kind of financial decision. We’ve also found the following methods to be effective:

The first is to never, ever provide your private information, such as your Social Security number, bank account or birth date, to anyone who contacts you unsolicited.

Secondly, never send a check or wire money to anyone who contacts you if you do not know them personally. If you receive an unwanted call, piece of mail or email, hang up, shred it, delete it and DO NOT RESPOND.

Make sure you’re signed up for the Federal Do Not Call list. You can visit to submit your phone number. Your state may also have a state-specific No Call list, and it’s a good idea to register your numbers on that list as well. However, while being registered on the Do Not Call list will cut down on the amount of telemarketing phone calls you receive, you should also develop what we call a refusal script — memorize it or put it on your fridge so that you don’t get flustered and have a quick, easy way to just say no and to hang up. A sample refusal script might be “Sorry, I’m not interested. I don’t make any financial decisions without consulting my ____ (fill in the blank)” and then hanging up the phone. Don’t worry about missing out on something — if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Lastly, ask questions, and do your homework. Questions are empowering, and many scammers will shut down once you start asking them. However, it’s a good idea not only to ask questions, but to do your homework on their answers. Research the company through an organization like the Better Business Bureau, and talk to friends and family before taking any kind of action.



"Fraud Prevention Methods from ElderWatch - AARP Foundation." AARP. Accessed May 01, 2019.