Top tips to recognize holiday shopping scams with AARP Hawai’i
Sponsored by AARP Hawai’i
A new AARP Fraud Watch Network report found 75% percent of consumer respondents reported they have been targeted or experienced at least one form of fraud that can be tied to the holidays.
“Scammers are out in force during the holidays to try to steal money or sensitive information from consumers,” said Keali`i Lopez, AARP Hawai`i State Director. “Online shopping, shipping gifts and even charitable donations can become tools for scammers to use in their schemes. Knowing the warning signs is the first step you can take to spot and avoid scams”
If you shop online beware of fake websites that promise super-low prices, but fail to deliver the goods. Some online advertisements can download malicious software onto devices or lead the shopper to a cloned site of a legitimate store. The old adage still applies – if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Other warning signs to watch out for – misspellings and extra words or characters in website addresses and in the solicitation. If a website address or solicitation seems off, it could be a scam.
Scams can also occur when shoppers search online for customer service contact information. Nearly half of adults surveyed believe the customer support number found at the top of an online search can be trusted. Online ads that appear to be a legitimate company’s customer service information can be a scammer’s attempt to get consumers to call them instead. Use a billing statement or other information obtained directly from the company to find legitimate numbers. Also, a retailer will never ask for your log-in information when providing customer support.
Over half of adults said they are planning to ship gifts to friends or family over the holidays. Packages on front porches are a common target for thieves, with one in four adults reporting they lost a package in this way. Additionally, scammers send fake shipping notifications about an issue to get consumers to disclose payment or sensitive personal information. Don’t click on unsolicited links.
Be careful when buying gift cards. Thieves can secretly scan the numbers off the cards and as soon as a card is purchased and activated, the scammers drain the funds from them before you or someone you give it to can use them. We suggest purchasing gift cards that are behind the counter or in some other way better protected, or buying them online directly from the retailer.
Scammers will often urge their targets to pay a made-up debt by purchasing a gift card or what they sometimes call electronic vouchers. If a stranger asks you to buy a gift card to pay a debt or obligation, it’s likely a scam. Gift cards are for gifts, not payments.
When you pay for holiday shopping, credit cards offer the best protection. Peer-to-peer apps like Cash App, Zelle and Venmo are gaining popularity with 45% of adults reporting they plan to use one this holiday season, but they do not offer fraud protection. Avoid using these apps to make purchases from people or businesses you do not know. Debit cards also do not offer the same protections as credit cards.
For more tips on avoiding holiday scams go to aarp.org/holidayscams.
The AARP Fraud Watch Network is a free resource that equips consumers with up-to-date knowledge to spot and avoid scams and connects those targeted by scams with our fraud helpline specialists who provide support and guidance on what to do next. Anyone can call the helpline at 877-908-3360. The Fraud Watch Network also offers free, facilitated peer discussion groups that seek to provide emotional support for those experiencing fraud; and advocates at the federal, state, and local levels to enact policy changes that protect consumers and enforce laws.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol @AARPadvocates and @AliadosAdelante on social media.
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