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Arkansans Urged to Be Wary of Holiday Scams

AARP Arkansas warns consumers to beware of holiday scammers, and to ask questions about any charity they support. (AARP Arkansas)
AARP Arkansas warns consumers to beware of holiday scammers, and to ask questions about any charity they support. (AARP Arkansas)
December 11, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Nearly two-thirds of Arkansas consumers in an AARP survey failed a quiz about how to stay safe from common holiday scams. Lou Tobian, director of outreach and education with AARP Arkansas, says most people need to be more diligent, especially at this time of year.

"Holiday fraudsters are out there doing their evil deeds," says Tobian. "And we need to be aware of the different ways that they can take advantage of us."

Tobian says perhaps the most surprising finding in the survey was how few people checked out the charities they were supporting.

"Seventy percent of people who donated to a charity in the past 12 months did so without asking any questions about how that donation would be spent," says Tobian.

He notes Arkansas donors ranked higher than seniors nationally in asking questions about charities.

Tobian says those who are interested in donating tend to automatically trust the person soliciting the funds, which could be a problem.

"If somebody presents themselves to us as a charity and talks about a specific need, I imagine the need is real," says Tobian. "We just don't always know whether the person asking for the money is going to be able to put our donation to work in addressing that need."

Tobian suggests using resources, such as the Wise Giving Alliance information from the Better Business Bureau, to make sure their donation dollars will help those in need.

Tobian suggests buying gift cards directly from a cashier or customer service desk, instead of an in-store rack, to minimize the chance of fraud. He explains a favorite scam is to steal information from gift cards on display before they are purchased.

"It seems so convenient, those gift card racks, because there are a number of different choices available to us, and it's right there in one location," says Tobian.

The full "Beware the Grinch" report is on the AARP Fraud Watch Network website,

Jeff Stein, Public News Service - AR