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During holiday crunch, fraud awareness data raises concerns

A woman orders gifts over the internet
Артем Барынин
Adobe Stock
A woman orders gifts over the internet

Consumer advocates warned more people report being targeted by scammers as key information to protect their financial identity is not always getting through, and a Wisconsin expert hopes holiday shoppers take note.

A new AARP national survey revealed in the past year, 52% of those surveyed said they have received a false notification about a package shipment issue, which is nearly double from the previous year.

Courtney Anclam, senior program specialist for AARP Wisconsin, said a fraud knowledge quiz associated with the survey showed a disconnect in what to look out for.

"Especially when you talk about ads on social media, it's sometimes really difficult to discern if that's real or not," Anclam pointed out. "The landscape is always shifting; people are maybe not keeping up as much as they should be on some of those new tactics."

Only 28% of the quiz respondents answered most questions correctly. Anclam acknowledged many people do not have time to research the latest warnings. But she cautioned scammers prey on busy schedules this time of year. For online shopping, she suggested looking up the company name with the words "scam" and "fraud" to see if concerns pop up in the internet search.

And when shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, Anclam added getting gift cards requires some extra attention.

"Just making sure that gift cards haven't been tampered with," Anclam urged. "Before you purchase it, you can see the PIN number on the back when it should be covered, and stuff like that."

Other tips include being suspicious of huge discounts on hot gift items, especially when they are promoted on social media. And if you plan to travel this holiday season, AARP recommends being wary of websites pretending to be legitimate hotels, airlines and other related businesses.

Mike Moen is a radio news reporter with nearly two decades of experience in the field. He has covered much of the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Many of his stories have aired nationally, including several public radio programs.
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