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AARP AARP States Pennsylvania Scams & Fraud

Don’t Let the Grinch Steal Your Holidays – New AARP Survey Unwraps Fraud Tactics

Mature woman doing online payment

A new 2023 AARP Fraud Watch NetworkTM report is highlighting the ways criminals target consumers during the holiday season. A majority (80%) of U.S. consumers say they have experienced some type of fraud this year – many of which ramp up over the holiday shopping season. These holiday shopping scams have increased from last year’s report, from receiving fake notifications about shipments, to online ad scams, and more. 

“The concerning findings from our annual survey are that fraud is on the rise and that knowledge about how to stay safe from fraud is dropping,” said Mary Bach, Chair of AARP Pennsylvania’s Consumer Issues Task Force. “Education plays an important role in combatting fraud, but we can't educate our way out of what is now a rampant issue."

This year, significantly more consumers plan on shopping online compared to the last two years. Fraudsters often place fake ads online and across popular social media sites for steep discounts on the hottest items, for example.

Use of peer-to-peer (P2P) payment services has increased significantly for a second year in a row. A large majority of respondents shared they do business via P2P apps – such as sending money to businesses they have no previous relationship with. In the unfortunate event of fraud, these apps provide little protection to affected consumers.

Gift cards continue to be popular gift options, with 66% of those surveyed planning to purchase them this holiday season. However, 27% of consumers have experienced either giving or receiving a gift card with no value on it. “Criminals have old-school ways of manipulating cards hanging on retail racks and high-tech ways of searching online for cards with balances and draining them,” Bach shared. “It may be safest to purchase a gift card directly from the card issuer’s website.”

In a 10-question fraud knowledge quiz that was again part of this year’s AARP survey, most respondents failed with only 28% of respondents able to answer 7 or more questions correctly. We need to home in on some key protections by educating consumers that:

  • Retailers will never request your login information to provide customer support.
  • Credit cards offer the most consumer protections of any payment method.
  • Regularly accepting operating system upgrade prompts on your device is important, as some updates are to patch known fraud vulnerabilities.
  • It’s risky to do a web search for a company’s customer support network because criminals buy ads impersonating those companies. Check billing and credit card statements for customer service, use the number on the back of your credit cards, or go directly to the company by typing in their web address.
  • Americans have been receiving a stream of fake delivery texts from scammers phishing for personal information. If you think it might not be legitimate, don’t click on the link provided unless you can verify by calling the company’s customer service number.

To read the full report and learn more, click here.

AARP Fraud Watch Network is a free resource that equips consumers with up-to-date knowledge to spot and avoid scams, and connects those targeted by scams with our fraud helpline specialists who provide support and guidance on what to do next. Anyone can call the helpline at 877-908-3360. AARP Fraud Watch NetworkTM also offers free, facilitated peer discussion groups that seek to provide emotional support for those experiencing fraud; and advocates at the federal, state, and local levels to enact policy changes that protect consumers and enforce laws.




About AARP

AARP is the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to the more than 100 million Americans 50-plus and their families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the nation's largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit,ñol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspañol and @AARPadvocates on social media.

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