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How to Protect Your Wallet from Holiday Scammers


Monday, December 20, 2021   

As Wyomingites rush to complete their holiday shopping lists, criminals are seizing upon new online opportunities to separate consumers from their money.

Almost half of adults recently surveyed believe companies and customer-support numbers that appear as ads at the top of an online search can be trusted.

Tom Lacock, associate state director for AARP Wyoming, said many are carefully constructed traps.

"Three out of four adults have been targeted or experienced at least one form of fraud," Lacock reported. "So it's pervasive, it's out there, and the holiday season is really kind of the best time of year for scammers to try to get into your wallet."

He said to ensure you are talking with a company's authentic customer-service representative, use the number listed in your most recent correspondence with the company, such as a billing statement. If you suspect you have fallen victim to scams, report it so others will not, to AARP's Fraud Watch hotline at 877.908.3360.

Scammers also are taking advantage of the boom in home delivery during the pandemic to extract personal information from phones or computers.

Lacock warned people to be on the lookout for emails and texts from people posing as UPS or other delivery services.

"Someone saying that your package cannot be delivered, and asking you to please click on a link to straighten it out," Lacock explained. "Unfortunately in a lot of those cases, people are really just looking to do some fishing, get into your bank account, or find other passwords to help them do so."

For those planning to make charitable donations, Lacock urged consumers to be alert to schemes designed to capture money intended for your favorite nonprofit, especially as end-of-year solicitations start to pour in.

"Scammers will hijack some of the logos, and try to spoof some of the e-mail and web addresses in order to make a little bit of easy money," Lacock pointed out. "So do your own research, check websites such as Charity Navigator, [or] Charity Watch before you make the donation."

Disclosure: AARP Wyoming contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Housing/Homelessness, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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