A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

New AARP survey shows technology causing more people to be susceptible to holiday scams

By Nadia Ramlagan
Public News Service

Holiday scams aren’t what they used be. Technology is making fraud harder to spot, and according to a new survey by AARP, nearly 20% of participants failed a simple quiz designed to test their ability to recognize the red flags of holiday scams.

Nearly 70% of U.S. adults plan to buy gift cards this holiday season. But according to a new study by AARP, scammers have found a way to drain gift cards’ funds as soon as they are purchased. (Photo from Adobe Stock, via PNS)

Gary Adkins is a retired state prosecutor who specialized in felony and securities fraud. He said some scams are more common than others.

“I think there’s a lot of areas that citizens of the Commonwealth get scammed in, involving the gift cards, involving the package delivery,” Adkins said.

He said Kentuckians can report suspected scams to AARP’s online Fraud Watch Network or by calling 877-908-3360 to get help if you believe you’ve been a victim of a scam.

According to the report, only 30% of people say they’ve done background research on a charity before giving money. But of those who did, half decided not to proceed with a donation based on what they learned.

Adkins said the Kentucky attorney general’s office maintains a database of vetted charities in the state.

“It is very difficult for folks to spot these things many times because they think they’re dealing with reputable individuals,” he said.

Adkins said charity-rating sites such as Give.org and CharityNavigator.org also are good resources to check on whether a group asking you for money is legitimate.

“Other than an organization that you feel comfortable with, that you have a way of finding out how the money is being used,” he said.

You can also contact a charity directly and ask. The AARP report said more than 1 in 3 adults believe they’ve been asked to donate to a charity or cause that most likely was fraudulent.

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