THE BLOG
10/17/2014 07:05 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Studying The Con Artist's Playbook

In the past year, Americans have lost over $18 billion to fraud, identity theft and various scams. But how? We all know when something seems too good to be true, it probably is. So, why do people continue to fall for scams or fail to protect their personal data?

The answer is simple, and straight out of The Con Artist's Playbook, a free resource available through AARP's Fraud Watch Network.

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Getting you "under the ether' is a con artist's main goal. They appeal to your emotions of greed, fear and urgency so you stop thinking rationally. For example, they lure you in with ways of getting rich quick -- so you begin to consider how you'll spend your new-found wealth, instead of thinking rationally before making a decision.

Con artists often prey upon your fears -- intimidating or threatening you for money. Or, they may come on as a friend by making small talk about things you have in common. Before you know it, you're sharing personal information about your family or your finances, because you feel a connection.

With reports of new retailer data breaches nearly every day, it's not a matter of if - but WHEN - your personal information will get compromised or stolen.

And yet, recent research from AARP shows that many folks leave themselves open to identity theft by not securing access to their personal information. Only 26 percent of people use different passwords for multiple online accounts, and almost 44 percent of folks 50 and older don't have their smartphone passcode protected.

In the latest AARP The Magazine, AARP fraud expert Doug Shadel reveals how one woman ran up thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges on an unassuming victim.

As online thief Alice says, "Nowadays it's all about technology....I changed background information, changed her work history, changed her phone numbers. I changed everything.... I was her, and she couldn't prove that I wasn't."

The best way to protect yourself against fraud is to arm yourself with the facts and to be vigilant about protecting your personal data. Check out the AARP Fraud Watch Network's free online resources:

View The Con Artist's Playbook.
Check out the Fraud Watch Network's interactive map to see what scams are being reported in your state.
Sign up to receive email alerts about new scams.
• Call our toll free number 877-908-3360 to talk to a trained Fraud Watch Network volunteer.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/aarp

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