© 2024 WXPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Don't Let Scammers Ruin Your Holiday


During the holiday season, it pays to be vigilant in avoiding scams that can put a damper on your celebration and a hole in your wallet.

When people are in a generous mood, fraudsters will prey on those who don't keep abreast of the latest scams. One popular holiday gift is the gift card - but according to Jeannie Tucker, senior program specialist with AARP Wisconsin, where you buy it is important. She said scammers often target those big store display racks of gift cards.

"They write down or they scan numbers directly off the cards, and then they can check online or call the toll-free number to see if somebody has bought that card and activated it," Tucker said. "And if they have, that means that fraudster has that information and can spend the money at will."

Tucker said the safest way to buy a gift card is directly from the check-out counter at the store itself, rather than from a huge store display. A

ARP's Fraud Watch Network has other tips to prevent identity theft and scams at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork. There are so many scams today that it's hard to keep track of them all. Tucker suggested adding another level of protection by shopping with your credit card rather than a debit card. "With credit cards, you're only liable for up to $50 of fraudulent use; if you use your debit card, you don't necessarily have that same protection," she said. "So, the recommendation is to use your credit card, not your debit card. Keep your debit card in the wallet."

News stories abound about people having packages stolen right off their front porch. It may be a bit less convenient, but Tucker recommended people request a signature for any package delivery. She said be sure to click the box that says 'signature requested at delivery' when ordering things online.

"Package-delivery companies are not responsible for stolen packages if they're left at your door without a delivery signature," Tucker advised.

One more thing to be aware of is holiday e-cards that come by e-mail. Tucker warned that some can carry malicious software or unwanted advertising. "Oftentimes, you'll receive an e-card from a company or a vendor that you're not familiar with, and that's a red flag that you want to watch for," she said.

Wisconsin News Connection is here.

Up North Updates
* indicates required