Thieves Don't Take a Holiday: Tips to Avoid Scams

Dec 14, 2018

Beware of scammers
Credit (PhotoMix-Company)

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MADISON, Wis. - 'Tis the season for holiday shopping - and also online holiday scams. Swindlers are out in full force during the holidays, capitalizing on these busy times.

Courtney Anclam, senior program specialist with AARP Wisconsin, said distracted consumers can fall prey to scammers more easily, so it's best to stay vigilant. She explained scammers can send emails that look legitimate but lead to bogus websites. So she suggested only using trusted retailers for shopping, and always using a secure method of payment. "So you're always going to want to use a credit card, because then you're not liable for the fraudulent charges; whereas if you use a debit card, those fraudulent charges typically result in you losing your money," Anclam explained. When purchasing from an online retailer, shoppers can look for a lock in the address bar, a sign that the website is secure. Another common online pitfall to avoid, she said, is using public WiFi where online activity can be viewed by hackers.

Learn more about the latest scams at

Anclam pointed out that thieves have also found a way to take advantage of all the holiday mail deliveries. "Scammers will send very convincing phishing emails that appear to be from the UPS or Fed Ex, or the United States Postal Service. Clicking on these links will take you to phony sign-in pages and then, when you provide your personal information, they're able to steal that from you," she said. Charity scams are a big problem this time of year, as well. Anclam said criminals know that legitimate charities are making their year-end pushes for donations.

"Before giving your money to any charity, you're going to want to do your research and look them up on a website like or, and make sure that they're legitimate before sending any money," Anclam suggested. While people age 55 and over tend not to fall victim to scams as often as younger people, Anclam noted when they do, they tend to lose more money.