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Four Ways to Protect Your Identity and Privacy Skip to content

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4 Tools to Prevent Fraud

How 'Informed Delivery' and password managers add protection against scammers

How to Fight Fraud Illustration Concept

AARP

Thieves are experts at using technology to steal from us.

I say, ‘Fight fire with fire.’ These four options provide strong protection against fraud. Sign up, if you haven’t already.

Informed delivery

Cost: Free

The U.S. Postal Service is now offering a terrific service: Each delivery day, it will send an email to you containing digital scans of the letter-size mail that will soon arrive at your box or door. The email also details packages that will arrive that day or soon. Now you can cross-check for mail theft or ask someone to pick up a package if you’re away.

How to start: Sign up at informeddelivery.usps.com.

Robocall blocking

Cost: Free to $5 a month

There are three ways to block robocalls. The first is to sign up for the federal Do Not Call Registry, which will limit the number of legal sales pitches you get. The second: Check with your phone’s service provider to see what it offers (providers are under pressure to step up protections against robocalls). The third is to sign up for a third-party robocall blocker. This software blocks most robocalls to your mobile phone; some can cover your home phone, too. Among the respected services are Nomorobo, YouMail, Truecaller and RoboKiller.

How to start: Get on the Do Not Call Registry by phoning 888-382-1222 from the number you wish to protect (or sign up online at donotcall.gov). For third-party services, go to their websites, review the choices and follow the sign-up instructions.

Password manager

Cost: Free to $120 a year

I’ve probably exceeded 50 active passwords, what with all the retailers, services and social media accounts I use. Yet all my passwords are different. Keeping track is easy if you use a password manager — software that creates unique, complex passwords for you and then stores them in a highly secure digital vault. Now you just need to remember one robust password to access all the rest. Plus, these services provide fraud alerts, secure auto-fill functions and more.  

How to start Popular password managers include Dashlane, LastPass and 1Password. Typically you pay only if you want a more advanced service that covers several devices. You’ll sign up online or via an app; be ready to enter all your accounts.

Bank/credit alerts

Cost: Free

Many banks offer a service in which they will email, text or call whenever your debit or credit card has been used, even if it’s for legitimate charges. The goal: You know immediately if someone who shouldn’t be tapping your account is doing so. You can set up the alerts for any amount. For credit cards I rarely use, I’ve set alerts to zero; that way I’m notified about any activity. I put higher dollar amounts on my high-use accounts so I don’t get bombarded.

How to start Simply go to your bank’s website or visit a branch to get set up.

AARP’s Fraud Watch Network can help you spot and avoid scams. Sign up for free “watchdog alerts," review our scam-tracking map, or call our toll-free fraud helpline at 877-908-3360 if you or a loved one suspect you’ve been a victim.

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