The scammers sure have been busy. Is there no end to their creativity?
The AARP is helping us to fight back, however, with its Fraud Watch Network's free Scam Tracking Map. You'll find the map on the AARP website (aarp.org) when you put "scam tracking map" in the search box.
Be sure to click on the widest possible search area, 200 miles, after you enter your ZIP code. Click first on AARP user-submitted reports. You'll see colored dots where scams have occurred. Click on one and scroll down to see the details. After you view those reports, go back and click on Law Enforcement Alerts, with authorities warning about scams near you.
The wide variety of scams is surprising. One involved an alleged refund where the thieves wanted to deposit the refund directly into the victim's checking account. Once they gained access, they emptied the account.
Another scam had thieves trying to enter a house by pretending to be from a cable company and needing to fix some wires. The homeowner was suspicious, and rightly so.
Fear is a big factor with threats of arrest. One threatened people with arrest if they didn't give their Medicare number over the phone to buy merchandise. Another threatened arrest for missing jury duty if a fine wasn't paid immediately. Others involve the IRS.
If you're generally safety conscious and not likely to fall for a scam, checking the map once a month so should be enough. But if you're not sure (and truthfully, a lot of the scams are hard to identify as such), you might want to consider signing up for the AARP's bi-weekly Watchdog Alerts.
If you're ever in doubt after receiving a suspicious call, call the police. They want to know.