Financial crimes including scams, identity theft and investment fraud are the most frequently attempted crime every day in the United States. Millions of Americans are losing billions of dollars to new scams and others that may seem like the “oldest trick in the book.” Technology has made it easier for criminals to access personal information and financial accounts – from around the world. Criminals cover their tracks and investigators often face an impossible task, meaning the best way to prevent these crimes is for consumers and professionals to understand how they work.
Understanding consumer protections along with the criminals’ tactics can help us all protect our own savings and those who may be more vulnerable like children and some elders. Professionals in a variety of roles have the opportunity and responsibility to prevent these crimes from happening to others.
Jay Haapala is Associate State Director of Community Engagement with AARP Minnesota and leads the state’s Fraud Watch Network which serves to educate consumers about fraud, scams and identity theft. He and AARP Fraud Fighter volunteers have met with over 500 community groups across the state, law enforcement officials, and fraud investigators, learning how people are being targeted right here in Minnesota. He has worked and served in the Minnesota nonprofit sector for 18 years building volunteer programs, and now is doing the same to build a network of fraud fighter volunteers with AARP.