The holiday season is here, and that presents plenty of opportunities for scammers to spoil your celebrations. But with a little preparation and vigilance, you can cut down on the threat of becoming a victim.
How it works: Scammers know a few things about us during the holiday season: we’re busy and maybe a little stressed, and we tend to be in a charitable frame of mind. So, they will take advantage of our lack of focus as well as our desire to help those in need, to steal our money or our personal information.
What you should know: Scammers will set up fake websites or mobile apps that mimic known and trusted retailers, and offer items at a fraction of the usual cost. They hope you won’t notice the red flags (misspelled words, unencrypted websites, lack of information on returns, etc.), and you’ll jump to share your payment information.
Scammers will send fake e-mails from delivery services about a package being held pending delivery. The e-mail directs you to click on a link that asks for your credit card or other personal information. Since many of us expect deliveries this time of year, it’s easy to catch us off guard.
Legitimate charities make a big push at year-end for last minute annual donations. Scammers know this. They will make their own end-of-year push to line their own pockets. They are banking on you not taking the time to verify their legitimacy or noticing that the name of the charity isn’t quite right.
Thieves can hit store gift card racks, scan the numbers off the cards, and then monitor them. As soon as the card is bought and activated, the scammers drain the funds. By the time your gift recipient tries to use the card, the money is long gone.
How can you avoid these scams?
- When shopping online or on a mobile app, make sure the retailer is who you think it And if a deal sounds too good to be true, it may indeed be a scam.
- Avoid the gift card rack and instead, safely purchase gift cards directly from the store clerk or buy them online directly from the
- If you receive an email from a delivery company, closely review it – check the sender information, look for misspellings, and hover over the link with your mouse to see if it is really taking you to the delivery service’s
- When sending packages, request signatures for deliveries to stop thieves from stealing packages from doorsteps.
- Before donating this holiday season, check the charity to make sure they will use your donations for good at: charitynavigator.org or give.org.
When it comes to fraud, vigilance is your No. 1 weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from cons. If you believe you may have fallen victim to a scam this holiday season, call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 1-877-908-3360 for guidance and support.
If you need assistance with understanding any aspects of holiday scams, contact the nearest Seniors Vs. Crime office in The Villages for advice or assistance. Seniors Vs. Crime also has a Speakers Bureau that will gladly come to your club, church, or group to speak about scams. To schedule a presentation, contact any of the offices. There is never a charge for their services. Seniors Vs. Crime can be reached at:
- The Fruitland Park Police Department Annex in the Moyer Recreation Center in The Villages – (352) 674-1882
- The Marion County Sheriff’s Office in The Villages – (352) 753-7775
- The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office in The Villages – (352) 689-4600, Extension 4606
- The Wildwood Police Department Annex at Brownwood in The Villages – (352) 753-0727
During this pandemic, our offices are closed for walk-in complaints. Please call before you come to our offices. Hours may vary or may require appointments. You can also file online, or by calling 1-(800)-203-3099. Our staff will call you back and you can file your complaint over the phone.
Volunteers at all four offices are ready, willing and able to assist you. To keep up with the latest scams, LIKE ‘Seniors vs. Crime Region 4’ on Face Book. Hablamos Español. Por favor pregunte por Yolanda. Martes a Viernes: 10:00 A.M. a 2:00 P.M., (352) 689 4606.