The holiday gift-buying season is here — and that means people need to stay vigilant so they don’t fall victim to scams. Thieves take advantage of the season with a variety of cons, whether it’s to steal money or personal identity information.
Kay Tomlinson, an AARP Fraud Watch Network volunteer with AARP Washington, says online gift buying is popular but people should be careful.
“We should really be suspicious of any online offer that offers such a deep discount over what other retailers offer. Really, we should be doing our online shopping with trusted retailers that we know,” she said.
Washingtonians lost more than $240 million to online scams last year, 11th highest in the nation, according to the FBI’s 2022 Internet Crime Report.
Tomlinson added package scams also are prevalent this time of year, with people getting texts claiming to be from delivery companies like UPS or FedEx.
“If you get one of these texts, type in the web address in your browser. Use an app, if that’s an option. Contact the shipping company directly by a number that you know is valid — not one provided by the text,” she added.
Tomlinson said gift card scams are also common, and she suggests people buy gift cards online from reputable dealers. Folks should also research charities before they give. She added she does not want to take the joy out of the gift-giving season, but people need to protect themselves.
“You don’t like to feel like you’re suspicious all the time, but when you get that little voice in the back of your head, it’s usually a good idea to listen to it — especially during the holiday season,” she explained.
Featured image: More than 12,000 Washingtonians fell victim to online scams in 2022. (cherdchai/Adobe Stock)