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Efforts continue to quell the backlash over President Donald Trump’s changing statements on the Russia summit. Also on the Thursday rundown: protestors are out for Mike Pence’s visit to Missouri; and nobody wants to go, but one option is green burials.

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Don’t Get Scammed in the Final Giving Rush

Photo: Consumer advocates caution while gift cards are a great choice for last-minute holiday shoppers, precautions need to be taken to ensure you don't get scammed. Photo credit: @mlcliff
Photo: Consumer advocates caution while gift cards are a great choice for last-minute holiday shoppers, precautions need to be taken to ensure you don't get scammed. Photo credit: @mlcliff
December 23, 2013

HARTFORD, Conn. - It's now prime time for holiday shoppers who revel in waiting until the last minute, and local consumer advocates advise that a few precautions are in order to avoid being scammed in the final rush. Gift cards are a popular go-to choice for last-minute shoppers who just can't decide on that perfect gift, but Jen Millea, communications director for AARP-Connecticut, advised taking a close look at the card to make sure it shows no signs of being tampered with.

"Sometimes crooks grab gift cards from the rack and they can write down or scan the card's serial numbers and then they can actually use the balance; so always carefully examine the card before you buy it," she said. "Make sure that the numbers haven't been scratched off."

Even better, Millea suggested, is asking for a gift card that has been kept behind the counter, rather than one that was displayed on a rack. AARP recently launched its new Fraud Watch Network as a resource to help people spot and avoid scams.

Millea said the same level of caution is advised if you are going to open your pocketbook to give a charitable donation. She advised being wary of any charity that won't provide key information in writing.

"Especially around this time of year, (there are) false charities or people posing as representatives of a charity, asking for money, or trying to get your credit card information or your cash."

Millea said scammers have even been sending emails to consumers who believe they may have been victims of the recent hacking of credit card information at Target. Don't click or respond to those emails, she warned.

"Like the headline, ''Tis the season to be wary,' obviously this is the time when scammers are out in force, when people are opening up their wallets to spend more money, and they're looking for a way to take it."

If you believe that you or someone you know has been a victim of identity theft or fraud, you can get help from the AARP Foundation Fraud Fighter Center.

AARP Foundation Fraud Fighter Center: 877-908-3360.

AARP Fraud Watch Network is on the web at AARP.org.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT