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Holiday Scams on the Rise

Twenty percent of survey respondents said they had given or received a gift card that had been depleted. (Andrey Popov/Adobe Stock)
Twenty percent of survey respondents said they had given or received a gift card that had been depleted. (Andrey Popov/Adobe Stock)
December 23, 2019

HARTFORD, Conn. - 'Tis the season to be careful.

That's the word for consumers as the number of holiday scams, frauds and thefts continues to climb.

More than one-in-five adults surveyed in Connecticut failed a simple quiz designed to test the ability to recognize holiday scams.

From bogus charities to "porch pirates," consumer fraud and theft abound at the end of the year.

With 70% of Connecticut residents planning to give gift cards this year, AARP state director Nora Duncan advises consumers to make sure no one has tampered with the cards purchase.

"Twenty percent of the folks that AARP surveyed reported they had given or received a gift card whose balance had already been depleted," she relates.

AARP recommends only buying cards online or from stores that keep them behind the counter.

Tips to avoid holiday scams can be found at

More than 40% of Connecticut adults plan on shipping packages to friends or family this year.

But Duncan points out that a lot of them don't insist on one simple measure that can help keep those packages from being stolen.

"Thirty-six percent of them never request a signature, which makes them vulnerable to being left out on the porch and being taken by one of these 'porch pirates,'" she points out.

If getting a signature is not an option, AARP recommends shipping to a secure location where the recipient can pick up the package.

Many people do almost all their charitable giving at the end of the year. But Duncan notes that a third of those surveyed said they received a request for a donation from a group that was likely fraudulent.

"You really need to do your research and make sure that the funds you are donating are going to a legitimate charity who is putting that money aside for those charitable causes," she stresses.

AARP has a free help line at 877-908-3360 to report scams or to help those who are victims of fraud and scams.

Disclosure: AARP Connecticut contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT