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Report: Washingtonians Susceptible to Holiday Scams

AARP Washington says those online holiday deals that look too good to be true probably are. (zephyr_p/Adobe Stock)
AARP Washington says those online holiday deals that look too good to be true probably are. (zephyr_p/Adobe Stock)
December 17, 2019

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Scammers are looking to steal holiday cheer, and a new survey finds many Washingtonians could be prime targets. The AARP Fraud Watch Network's new report, "Season's Cheatings," looks at how susceptible Washington consumers are, and finds 1 in 5 failed a quiz testing their ability to recognize holiday scams.

Jason Erskine, communications director with AARP Washington, said thieves understand this can be a lucrative time of year for them.

"Many of us are busy with our holiday preparations, our family gatherings and our get-togethers with friends; you know, we're busy, we're distracted and sometimes we're stressed out," Erskine said. "And scammers hope to take advantage of those distractions to trick us into handing over our hard-earned money."

AARP Washington offers some tips for avoiding scams. For instance, if you find a deal online that seems too good to be true, it most likely is.

The survey found 70% of Washingtonians plan to buy gift cards this holiday season. Erskine said people should buy cards from a secure location, such as behind the counter, because it's easy for thieves to steal the money off those cards.

Folks also should be wary of organizations soliciting charitable donations, which ramps up during the holidays. Erskine said only 37% of people checked out charities on rating sites such as give.org or CharityNavigator.org. He said deciding which charities to give to before the holidays could be a better way to donate.

"Consider developing your own charitable giving plan," he suggested. "This is a set of charities that you select each year after doing your own research. You decide how much you want to give and whom you want to give to for the year. And then when other charities call or write, just say, 'No, thank you,' that you already have a plan in place."

Finally, AARP Washington warns people to be careful about sending packages. Erskine said people should consider having packages delivered to their work, requiring a signature or giving special instructions about where to leave packages.

Disclosure: AARP Washington contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA