AARP reminds people to stay aware of scams that crop up during holiday season in particular

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Charitable solicitations

Check out charities before giving. Fifty-three percent of adults said they don’t always do such vetting, which is easy using sites such as Charity Navigator, CharityWatch and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. You can also search online using a charity’s name plus terms such as “scam” and “complaints.”

Online Shopping Scams

AARP’s new survey on holiday scams found that 35% of US adults have experienced fraud when buying a product through an online ad.

  • Spot a Scam: Scammers will offer incredible deals for all the items on your holiday shopping list. But clicking the link provided may take you to a fake retail website that may be a convincing copy of a legitimate site, or to an entirely made-up site.
  • Spot a Scam: You may end up buying something that never arrives (or what arrives is a low-cost version of what you were expecting).
  • Spot a Scam: Or, worse, your visit to the fake site could enable the crooks to download malicious software to your device, allowing them to steal logins and passwords, even to financial accounts.
  • Stop a Scam: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Stop a Scam: If you’ve never heard of a company before, check it out. 1- Type the company name into a web browser with the words “complaint, scam, fraud” and see if anything negative comes up. And 2- Look for spelling errors, unprofessional website design, limited contact options, or unusual web addresses.
  • Stop a Scam: Avoid clicking on links even if you think the message or the ad is from a familiar retailer — instead, go to your web browser and type the web address you know to be the right one to avoid getting sent to a cloned site.

Package Delivery Scams

The AARP survey shows 25% of US adults have had a package stolen from outside their home, and 34% have received a fake notification about a shipment!

  • Spot a Scam: Porch pirates are criminals who look for the opportunity to steal packages from people’s front doors — they are out in force over the busy holiday season.
  • Spot a Scam: Scammers will also claim to be shipping carriers (FedEx, UPS, etc.). They’ll send fake notifications saying there’s a problem with a shipment and you need to contact them. But there’s no shipment coming, and all they want is for you to respond and provide money or personal information.
  • Stop a Scam: Rather than have packages delivered to your front door, check with the shipper and find out if packages can be held at their location until you are notified. Or, direct the carrier to place your packages in a specific location that would be hard to see from the road.
  • Stop a Scam: With respect to fake notifications from carriers, a big red flag is you haven’t ordered anything and aren’t expecting a package. Additional red flags are demands for payment or high-pressure or “urgent” messages asking for personal information.

Marcy Willis

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