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AARP Florida warns consumers about holiday shopping scams

New Survey: Scammers ramp up attacks on consumers as the holiday shopping season begins

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Nearly 8,000 people call AARP’s Fraud Watch Network helpline every month to report suspected scams, and a newly-released AARP Fraud Watch Network Survey shows that calls related to holiday scams may be on the upswing soon.

AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson said, “The holiday season is a time for togetherness, celebration and giving. Unfortunately, the gift-giving process, from purchasing the perfect gift to making sure it gets to the recipient, also brings many opportunities for scammers to enrich themselves.

“Fraudsters deploy a number of tactics to steal during the holidays, ranging from online shopping scams, to those involving the draining of gift cards, to package and shipping scams. The new AARP study found that many consumers may be opening themselves up to increased risks as they shop this holiday season.

“AARP Florida is here to help you be aware so that you, your family and loved ones can be protected. This holiday season, serve your holiday cheer with a side of skepticism to help stay safe from increasingly sophisticated scammers.”

Key Survey Findings:

  • Three out of four (75%) U.S. adults have been targeted by or experienced at least one form of fraud in the past.
  • 69% of Americans will use their debit cards this holiday season (credit cards and digital wallets are safer online).
  • 66% plan to purchase gift cards as a holiday gift, and 60% rely on purchasing them off the rack (a known target for scammers).
  • 45% intend to use peer-to-peer (P2) apps like Venmo, Zelle or Cash App to send money, and 69% of P2P users have sent money to someone they didn’t know well (not recommended).
  • 38% of adults reported receiving a request for a monetary donation to a charity that felt fake or fraudulent.
  • 34% of adults have received a fake notification about a shipping issue (which is separate from the equally important issue of packages still being stolen from porches).

In addition, the AARP research showed that online shopping, which became the shopping method of choice for many American consumers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, remains extremely popular, underscoring the need to know how to do so safely. Unfortunately, survey findings also show that many don’t know how to do that, with most respondents failing related questions on a short quiz.  

The AARP Fraud Watch Network launched in 2013 as a free resource for people of all ages. Consumers may sign up for “Watchdog Alert” by email or text that deliver information about scams or call a free helpline at 877-908-3360 to report scams or get help from trained volunteers in the event someone falls victim to scammers’ tactics. The Fraud Watch Network website provides information about fraud and scams, prevention tips from experts, an interactive scam-tracking map and access to AARP’s hit podcast series, The Perfect Scam.

 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 or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

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