Jay Haapala, from AARP Minnesota, recently chatted with me about the most recent scams that criminals are using to cheat hardworking people like you and me, out of our hard-earned money.

It's frustrating! It can be very difficult these days to know who you are dealing with. The scammers are pros at taking your money. They have no guilt or remorse for what they do. That's why it's up to YOU to be prepared; to share information with your family and friends, and help protect those people around you that could be vulnerable to these types of crimes.

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The scams we are going to talk about herein, are scams that are being reported to AARP's nationwide call center; and yes. They ARE targeting people in central Minnesota.


We're all looking for ways to save money; including our young people that have been saving up for that once-in-a-lifetime trip with their friends, to enjoy their spring break. Here are some things to watch out for.

  • Scammers may create a website, a pop-up advertisement, or a post on social media, showing things like 'exclusive' and 'all-inclusive' vacation deals. You also might find an entire home that you and your friends could rent for a week at a great price; maybe a rental car for just a few dollars a day, and possibly, if you're using a popular vacation rental app, the host may ask you to pay up-front but off of the platform.
  • Scammers create fake websites, ads, and social media posts that pretty much look as good as the real guys. They then create false listings on those sites and ask you to pay for your vacation rental outside of the platform. THAT IS A HUGE RED FLAG. Leaving a platform means no trace of what you just paid for. Don't do it.
  • Remember! Be skeptical. Search for names of reputable companies instead of scrolling for great deals. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!


Who doesn't want to have a job that pays an amazing salary, all while lounging in your bathrobe, and having a cup of coffee at your kitchen table? Sure! It sounds amazing, and plenty of people have work-from-home jobs. BUT!!! Criminals will advertise jobs on the same websites that real, honest employers do on reputable websites. So just because you're on a reputable site, doesn't mean the job you are interested in is coming from a real company.

It's hard to distinguish these types of jobs because employers DO ask for personal information. Before you enter any of it, you NEED to dig a little deeper and make sure everything looks real.

On top of that, maybe you think you've done your research and the company appears to be real. Sometimes the differences are really hard to catch. Perhaps you've given them your address, social security number, and birthdate. Maybe they even asked you for your banking information. If they ask you to pay for your equipment upfront or to pay them through Paypal, Venmo, or Zelle, these should send up some big red flags as well. Remember; even if you don't recognize or feel alarmed until you are halfway through the process; STOP providing information when you realize what's happening and contact the authorities. Put a stop or freeze on your credit cards, or bank accounts, and contact the police and the BBB. You can also contact AARP for that matter regardless of your age.


Paying taxes is no fun, but scammers can make things even worse. Scammers will send alarming messages and make phone calls to frighten you about past-due tax bills that you owe. They will tell you that you need to make a wire transfer or send gift cards to pay it off. Sometimes, they say the government owes YOU the money, and all you need to do to get it, is provide banking information so they can put money in your account. NOTE: If you start reaching for a credit card, a check, or a gift card; STOP what you're doing.

The REAL IRS initiates communication by mail, although you may get phone calls once you're already in the process. No federal agency, including the IRS, will accept a payment by wire transfer or a gift card. If anyone asks for these types of things, you can bet that it is completely fake.

Maybe you do owe taxes. In that case, call the IRS at 800.829.1040. Now is also a very good time to get an IRS Identity protection PIN, so no one else can file your tax return in your name. (Yes! Scammers will do that, too!)


If you are worried that you may have fallen for a scam, or that someone you care about has been talking about some financial difficulties, and it seems like someone is taking their money, you can reach out to the AARP Fraud Watch Network by calling them at 877.908.3360, or go to www.aarp.org/fwn to speak to someone about what's happening. They will help you navigate the issue, and there may be a way to help you get out of the situation. I hope that these tips will help you recognize a scam and that you will share anything that looks suspicious with authorities. The best way to STOP scammers is to educate everyone around you, so they can't succeed.

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