One way to avoid being scammed is to not answer the phone — let it go to voice mail and screen your calls, experts say.

Each year, the Federal Trade Commission releases a book on scams reported to the agency the prior year. This year’s report shows that impostor scams are a serious and growing problem, according to the AARP’s Fraud Watch Network.

These scams come in many varieties but work the same way. A scammer pretends to be someone trustworthy — a government official or computer technician — to convince the consumer to send money.

The most common way people have lost money is by wiring funds, and 77 percent of scams happened by a scammer calling someone’s home. Technology makes it easy for crooks to display a caller ID that makes it appear the call is from a trusted source, but the call could be coming from anywhere.

All the more reason to not answer the phone and screen calls, AARP says. Often a scammer will not leave a message.

If they do leave a message, before giving out any personal information, make an independent call (not the number given) to verify a legitimate agency contacted you.

For more information, contact the AARP Fraud Watch Network at

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