The upcoming holidays and the “traditional season of giving” are a peak time for con artists to target Washington consumers, according to a new survey by AARP Fraud Watch.
Most shoppers in the state, 67 percent, failed a recent quiz on avoiding popular holiday scams, such as bogus charities, gift card scams and package thefts. Other Washington consumers said they regularly engage in risky behaviors that put them in danger of holiday con artists, including online shopping while using free Wi-Fi networks and using debit cards which have fewer fraud and theft protections than credit cards.
The results of the Beware of the Grinch report, which outlines the findings of an October survey of 807 Washington adults age 18 and older, is available at http://states.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/AARP-Holiday-Scam-Survey-WA-state.pdf.
“We’re encouraging consumers to be on the lookout for some emerging and popular scams, and to also share the information with their families and loved ones to help keep them safe this holiday season,” said AARP State Director Doug Shadel.
Charitable giving: Nearly 64 percent of Washington shoppers said they donated to a charity in the last 12 months without asking what percentage of the donation actually went to the charity. Also 60 percent didn’t verify whether the charity was legally authorized to raise money in the state. Washington consumers can check if a charity is registered by calling the secretary of state’s office at (800) 332-GIVE or online at www.sos.wa.gov/charities/.
Gift cards: Only purchase gift cards from the store they are from. Ask the cashier to scan the card to ensure the correct balance. .
Packages: Require signatures on all package deliveries.
Debit cards: Consumer protections for debit cards are weaker than protections for credit cards.
Wi-Fi: Don’t use public Wi-Fi to check sensitive financial information or to make purchases using your credit card.
For more information and detailed tips on how to avoid all manner of holiday scams, visit https://action.aarp.org/site/SPageNavigator/FWN_HolidayScams_2015.html?cmp=RDRCT-HOLIASCM_OCT27_015
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