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Season of Giving Also Season of Scams

Watch Out for Social Media Scams

AARP Fraud Watch Network
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Season of Giving Also Season of Scams

As we enter the holiday season, it pays to be vigilant to avoid scams or slip-ups that could put a damper on your celebrations. Here are some ways to keep your holidays happy.

  • Beware of deals. Be wary of those too-good-to-be-true deals, especially those that show up as links on your social media feeds. Check out reviews, search the retailer’s name with “scam” to see what comes up, and if it’s a retailer you already know and frequent online, go directly to the website rather than clicking on a link.
     
  • Buying gift cards? Consider this. Thieves can 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. Safely purchase gift cards directly from the store clerk – and ask them to scan the card to make sure it has the correct value.
     
  • Keep the debit card in your wallet. Consumer protection experts recommend the use of credit cards rather than debit cards for most purchases, to protect from fraud and theft. With credit cards, you are liable for only up to $50 of fraudulent use. In the case of a lost or stolen debit card, your financial loss could be much higher. (See Debit Card Dangers.)
     
  • Sign for those package deliveries. Package delivery companies are not responsible for stolen packages left at your front door without requiring a delivery signature. And watch out for phishing scams claiming to be from UPS, FedEx and the US Postal Service asking you to click a link to solve a delivery issue.
     
  • Be mindful when applying for temporary holiday jobs. Bogus online job applications for holiday help ask for personally identifiable information, especially your Social Security number. Don’t share your number with anyone unless you absolutely have to, and never provide it until you confirm you are dealing with a real organization looking for employees.
     
  • Is that really a holiday e-card? Fake e-cards can carry malicious software or contain unwanted advertising. Clues of a fake card include not knowing the sender, not being familiar with the e-card company, and misspellings.

For more tips on what to watch for this holiday season, visit www.aarp.org/holidayscams.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family.

Sincerely,

Kristin Keckeisen
Fraud Watch Network


Watch Out for Social Media Scams

Social media scams come in many shapes and sizes. Two fast-moving scams are fake ads on social media sites and phony genealogy sites. The goal with both is to steal from you, whether it’s your credit card information or your identity.

How It Works:

  • With online shopping scams, scammers post ads for too-good-to-be-true deals on hot items, like designer eyewear, for example. The ads can show up as a legitimate sponsored post, or in a friend's Facebook timeline (a sure sign their account has been hacked). The goal is to get your credit card information to charge you for phony goods and steal your personal information for identity theft.
  • With genealogy site scams, scammers are trying to trick people with lookalikes of legitimate sites, or offering ancestry research for free. The site directs you to submit personal information with the goal of stealing your identity.

What You Should Know:

  • Low prices for hot items are a red flag. Clicking on the ad leads to imposter social media pages resembling popular brands and companies.
  • Be wary of sponsored ads that appear to feature well-known genealogy websites – even if the advertised link looks legitimate. It is very easy to change the name of links to appear that they are coming from a reputable source.

What You Should Do:

  • If an ad appears on your profile, change your password immediately. Also, remove all suspicious apps from your account that can automatically post content.
  • If you paid for a product through one of these scam sites, alert your bank or credit card company to cancel the transaction.
  • Before signing up to find out about your ancestors, search for the name of the company, and verify its reputation on genealogy forums and Facebook groups.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family.

Sincerely,

Kristin Keckeisen
Fraud Watch Network


AARP Fraud Watch Network

The AARP Fraud Watch Network connects you to the latest information about ID theft and fraud so you can safeguard your personal information and your pocketbook. Sign up for Watchdog Alerts, which are free to everyone.


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