AARP warns consumers to watch for holiday fraud

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Scammers may try to entice consumers with massive discounts, but AARP says that is a big red flag

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Online shopping is so easy. So is online fraud thanks to scammers.

“They’re creating bogus websites, you know, fake text messages, you know, even putting out fake social media ads just to lure you in and steal your money,” said Amy Nofziger, Director of Victim Support, AARP Fraud Watch Network.

One way scammers do it is tempt you into buying something you want by offering it for far less than the average retail price.

“Let’s say it retails for $500 and you see it for $200, that’s a huge red flag, The item is probably either counterfeit, stolen or there’s even no item at all and it’s just a way to lure you in to get your personal and financial information,” said Nofziger.

Before pulling the trigger on an online purchase, AARP recommends rather than doing so through an ad, email or text, go directly to the retailer’s website where you want to shop.

“And when you’re on there, you know check the URL bar. You know, we’ve heard from consumers that have actually gone directly to the retailer’s website or so they thought and they looked up at the URL and they actually saw a couple of misspelled words in there,” said Nofziger.

She says poor grammar and shoddy graphics are often a tell-tale sign of fraud. So is a request for you to pay for your purchase with something other than a credit card.

“When you’re on a website and if they ask for a non-traditional form of payment like a wire transfer or a peer-to-peer transfer thing, you know, walk away. That is a scam,” said Nofziger.

Also troubling? 74 percent of people AARP recently surveyed said they plan to shop online using a debit card this holiday season. Keep in mind debit cards don’t offer nearly the number of protections that credit cards do.

While AARP aims to protect Baby Boomers and older adults, Nofziger says keep this in mind.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you live, your education level, anybody can be a victim of a scam,” said Nofziger.

6,000 people on average call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline which can be reached at 877-908-3360.

Click Here to visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network.

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