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Stopping Holiday Grinches in Their Tracks

PHOTO: AARP Montana is cautioning folks to be aware of the three most common rip-offs this time of year: Online shopping scams, gift card fraud and fake charities. Photo credit: Geralt/Pixabay
PHOTO: AARP Montana is cautioning folks to be aware of the three most common rip-offs this time of year: Online shopping scams, gift card fraud and fake charities. Photo credit: Geralt/Pixabay
December 22, 2014

HELENA, Mont. – The season of giving also brings out the takers – as in scammers and thieves.

And AARP Montana is offering tips through the AARP Fraud Watch Network to help people in the state avoid rip-offs, as well as advice on what to do if something seems fishy.

Tim Summers, AARP Montana state director, says AARP doesn’t want to dampen anyone's generosity, but this month and next are a time to be aware.

"We all know that retailers do big business during December, but so do thieves,” he points out. “With so much money flowing freely, con artists are out in full force."

Summers says if you suspect you've been scammed, file a police report, report it to your credit card company or bank, report it to the credit reporting agencies and gather evidence.

While scams take many forms, Summers outlines the big three in Montana this time of year.

"Some of the most prevalent scams that we're seeing right now include online shopping scams, gift card fraud and, of course, fake charities," he explains.

Prevention tips include double-checking website names – sites that are slightly misspelled are a red flag.

AARP also advises the purchase of gift cards directly from retailers, making sure PIN codes are not exposed and only donating to charities you know or have researched through the Better Business Bureau or Charity Navigator.

More tips at AARP.org/HolidayScams.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT