Can you spot an impostor? Eighty-five percent of adults are confident they can, according to a recent AARP survey. But the majority of the survey participants then flunked an “Impostor IQ” quiz that measures the ability to spot a liar (take the quiz at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork
Welcome to what experts call the illusion of invulnerability — the belief that frauds happen to others but not you. Overconfidence in your ability to spot bad guys is a dangerous thing. Impostor fraud is among the fastest-growing scam types precisely because so many of us think we are immune to it.
To help, here is a small sampling of actual impostor scams now playing out across America. The takeaway? Never accept a pitch or give any information to a stranger — on the phone, in person or over the internet — without first independently verifying that it’s legitimate.
The jury duty manager: “Hi, I’m calling from the courthouse, and you missed jury duty. Pay $400 or go to prison.
The puppy breeder: “As a dog lover, you should know we just got a beautiful litter of purebred golden retriever puppies. Just $200 each!”
The government clerk: “You have unclaimed property with our state. Simply pay this fee, and we will release it to you.”
The ticket seller: “As an affiliate of a major ticket vendor, we can get you seats for your dream concert for a discount, if you act quickly.”
The bank verifier: “There’s a data problem with your checking account. Please verify this information so we can confirm things and fix the error.”
The doctor representative: “Research shows conclusively that these new capsules will stop your disease in its tracks.”