Scam artists set up fake websites offering anything you could want to buy as gifts around the holidays, at prices that are too-good-to-be-true. And guess what? They are! You’ll never receive the gift you thought you bought, and the scammers could turn around and use your credit card information for their own purchases. Stick to well-known shopping sites, and always type in the web address, rather than clicking from a link to the retailer.
Are you buying gift cards this holiday season? Consider this. Thieves hit store gift card racks, secretly write down or scan the numbers off the cards, then check online or call the toll-free number to see if someone has bought the cards and activated them. As soon as a card is active, the scammers drain the funds. By the time your gift recipient tries to use the card, the money is long gone.
As you head out for last-minute holiday shopping, leave the debit card at home. Consumer protection experts recommend using credit cards to protect against fraud and theft. With credit cards, you are liable for only up to $50 of fraudulent use, and most credit card companies will waive this fee. In the case of a lost or stolen debit card, financial losses to the consumer can be much more significant. Call your bank for details.
Americans gave over $390 billion to charity in 2016. While government regulators say that most charities are legitimate, there are fundraisers that keep most of the money they raise. As you consider year-end giving, do your research. Check out charities at www.give.org or www.charitynavigator.org to make sure your money is going where it should and not into the pockets of scammers!
Report scams to local law enforcement. Contact the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork for more information on fraud prevention.