Experts Warn Consumers to Watch for Holiday Scammers

( – Consumer experts are warning buyers to be extra vigilant this holiday season as criminals, cyber and otherwise, are looking to take advantage of the hecticness of the season to part unsuspecting people from their hard-earned money.

Data released by the National Retail Federation indicates that consumers will spend an estimate of anywhere from $957.3 billion to $966.6 billion this year.

According to the American Association of Retired Persons, or AARP, consumer losses attributed to scams and fraud for 2022 were a staggering $8.8 billion, a 30% jump from the figure for the previous year. A new survey by the organization revealed that a large majority—or 80% of consumers—say that they have encountered scams in some shape or form. Fake shipping notifications accounted for the largest percentage of scams at 53%, while fake products purchased through online advertisements accounted for 38% of scams.

Naturally, scam artists want a piece of the proverbial spending pie distracted consumers make during the holidays, but as long as shoppers know what to watch out for, getting scammed can be easily avoided.

One example of a popular scam is one that urges consumers to donate to a fake or non-existent charitable organization. According to cybersecurity experts, consumers can look up legitimate organizations on websites such as Charity Navigator and CharityWatch. Experts also warn that many scammers urge customers to donate immediately, whereas a legitimate organization doesn’t put a deadline on when customers can send over money.

Another scam is what experts call “too good to be true’ deal scams, where shoppers are given seemingly favorable deals and discounts, especially for high-end or high-demand items like sneakers and tech gadgets. So if a deal is too good to be true, chances are it really is.

Scammers also use things like gift cards, airline tickets, and virus or malware warnings to “shock” customers into addressing the issue right away. The rule of thumb is to be more aware of purchases and anything you sign up for, so if something unrecognizable comes along, the reaction is to be skeptical rather than trusting.

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