‘Tis the season to be cautious

10 years ago

To the editor:
Now that we are officially into the holiday season, consumers should watch out for certain seasonal scams that reemerge each year. For example, do you like to give to charities? Unfortunately, the season of giving is a peak time for taking. Fraudsters contact unsuspecting potential donors using phony names and promising that every donation will help venerable groups such as firefighters, veterans, children or abused animals. If you don’t recognize the charity, go to charitynavigator.org to verify the information.
A popular way to give holiday gifts is to give friends, family and co-workers money gift cards. Thieves copy the card codes and then, once the card is activated, they spend the money. By the time you give your friend or co-worker the card, the money is gone. The best way to avoid this is to purchase gift cards only from a store cashier, customer service counter or website, rather than from unattended display racks. Make sure the cashier scans and activates the card in your presence and that you get a receipt in case there’s a problem.
We can all be fraud fighters and avoid these and other scams. Scammers will stop at nothing to separate you from your hard-earned money, but if you are aware of the common scams, you can avoid being a victim. Go to www.aarp.org/holidayscams for more information and to sign up for free fraud alerts. Let your local law enforcement know if you suspect foul play. Let’s work together to fight fraud in Maine.

Joe DeFilipp
AARP Fraud Fighter