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Look Out for Seasons Cheatings

Requiring a signature for deliveries helps stop "porch pirates" from stealing packages. (joyfotoliakid/Adobe Stock)
Requiring a signature for deliveries helps stop "porch pirates" from stealing packages. (joyfotoliakid/Adobe Stock)
December 23, 2019

HARRISBURG, Pa. - 'Tis the season to be careful.

That's one message consumer advocates want Pennsylvanians to keep in mind during this holiday season.

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

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

With 75% of Pennsylvanians planning to give gift cards this year, Mary Bach, who chairs the Consumer Issues Task Force at AARP of Pennsylvania, advises consumers to make sure no one has tampered with the cards they purchase.

"After the scammer has taken the information off the card and replaced it on the rack we activate it, not knowing the scammer has already taken the numbers," she relates.

Almost 20% of those surveyed said they had given or received a gift card that had no money left on it.

Tips to avoid holiday scams can be found at

Bach points out that when shipping a package to a friend or relative it's very important to request a signature when it is delivered, otherwise it may simply be left outside the recipient's front door.

"Package pirating, people stealing packages from your front porch, has really become almost a big industry," she warns.

The AARP survey found that more than 40% of Pennsylvanians don't request a signature on delivery of holiday packages.

Many people do almost all their charitable giving at the end of the year. But Bach notes that only half of Pennsylvanians research the organizations that receive their donations to be sure they are legitimate, and the funds really go to the causes they claim to support.

"Make sure you call the Bureau of Charitable Organizations within the Pennsylvania Department of State to check on the individual charity," she advises.

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 Pennsylvania contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Consumer Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA