By Bruce Carlson, Associate State Director of Communications —
Would you like to learn more about protecting yourself from online scammers and criminals? Could you use answers to your questions on personal Internet security? How do I keep my bank account safe? How can I recognize scam email or text? These are the types of questions we answer on AARP Washington’s Fraud Watch Fridays.
To help fight back against scammers, AARP Washington hosts two online events each month. Led by volunteers from the AARP Fraud Watch Network, the sessions are held on the second and third Friday of each month, starting at 10:30 a.m., on Facebook and YouTube (where they are also available for later viewing). The second Friday features the latest topics in the field, such as robocall scams, Amazon scams, email phishing, phony texts, romance scams, home repair scams, frauds targeting veterans, and more. The program on the third Friday covers online safety and cybersecurity; it features live questions from viewers and expert answers from AARP volunteer Dave Morrow.
Morrow, who lives in Bellingham, is co-lead of AARP Washington’s Fraud Watch Network of volunteers, along with Jean Mathisen of Island County, and is the driving force behind our online and cyber fraud education efforts. He’s had a nearly 40-year career in cybersecurity and counterintelligence for the military and private sector financial institutions. He was a Special Agent for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, specializing in computer crimes. After leaving his military career, he was head of cybersecurity for two multinational corporations and head of incident response for a major bank.
“I’ve seen fraud’s impact on my own family members,” said Morrow. “I believe that many people who are taken advantage of by fraudsters can avoid a lot of these problems by adopting some relatively simple precautions. This is especially true when it comes to cyber fraud. I hope our tidbits of information on frauds and how to avoid them will help FWF participants develop a ‘fraud fighter mindset’ where they skeptically examine every email, text, phone call, and interaction.”
“There’s almost no question Dave can’t answer,” said co-host Anne O’Callahan of Issaquah. “And for the rare question where we don’t have a ready answer, Dave has the contacts and experience to find out. We want to do everything we can to ensure our members are safe from fraud online”.
While anyone can be targeted by fraud, older Americans are often victims. In 2021, the top two types of fraud Washington state consumers reported to the Federal Trade Commission were impostor scams and identity theft.
“We hope the Fraud Watch Fridays will keep our participants aware of how fraud schemes work, how to lessen their chances of being victimized, and keep them aware of new types of schemes that constantly arise,” said Morrow. “It won’t make you a cybersecurity expert, but our sessions will give you the tools to make your online life safer and more enjoyable.”
Join us on Facebook on our AARP Washington State Page at aarp.org/FraudWatchFriday or on YouTube at youtube.com/aarpwashington.
Mark your calendar for these upcoming topics:
June 10: QR Codes, July 8: Password Manager Demo, August 12: Gift Card Scams, September 9: Medicare Scams, October 14: Holiday and Charity Scams, November 11: Veterans Scams, and December 9: Cyber Security.
You can register to participate in the next “Questions about Cyber Crime Fraud” session on Jun 17th by emailing email@example.com.