Do you frequently enter contests? Not only do marketers collect information like name, age and address, they may learn other things about you as well.
Do you mail in warranty cards? Many warranty cards request personal information like how much money you make. It is likely that your information is being sold to others, either legitimately or as part of a scam.
Do you fill out surveys? Did you recently fill out a questionnaire rating your stay at a hotel or the service at a restaurant? Selling survey data is big business, and marketing firms and even criminals can learn a lot about you based on travel preferences, what type of home you own, or what car you drive.
Do you share personal updates on social media? Scammers turn to social media postings to learn more about those they target. Be cautious. Don’t post personal information, narrow who can see your posts, and avoid posting real-time updates about your whereabouts.
Don’t just toss your mail in the garbage. Shred mail that has your name and address, account numbers, or other personal data. If you don’t have a home shredder, save your papers for a neighborhood shredding event.
Obituaries are prime hunting ground for scammers, who learn the names of vulnerable widows, widowers, children or grandchildren. Keep personal information in obituaries to a minimum.
Finally, many public records are available at the federal, state, county and city levels, including census data, property information, criminal records, bankruptcies, and tax liens. Private companies can pull together all this information on you and sell it to anyone. And it’s 100 percent legal.
If you think you have fallen victim to any type of scam, call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 for guidance and support, or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.