Every year, many Arizonans fall victim to identity theft, investment fraud and scams. A recent report by Javelin Strategy and Research finds that nationwide about 13 million Americans in 2012 were victims of I.D. theft in which about $20 billion was stolen.

Con artists use a variety of methods to bilk people out of their hard-earned money including phishing, tech-support scams, gold coin scams, oil and gas scams, sweepstakes and lottery scams. And although it appears that these are different kinds of scams, research shows that the tactics used by con artists are the same regardless of the scam.

According to AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) research, scammers ask questions that are meant to trigger emotional responses including questions about family relationships. They know how to use fear, greed and urgency to push the “right” buttons in people and get them to open their wallets.

This year, AARP launched its Fraud Watch Network to help people learn how to protect themselves against identity theft and fraud.

To find out more, go to aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or call 1-877-908-3360.

• David Mitchell is the state director of AARP Arizona.

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