A person in a red Christmas sweater typing at a computer with one hand. In the other they are holding a gift card. A Christmas tree is in the background.
Photo credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

AARP seeks to combat fraud this holiday season

As holidays see a noticeable uptick in fraud cases, AARP has gathered information on who’s vulnerable to these crimes and how to avoid scams.


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In an effort to raise awareness of fraud — especially during the holiday season — AARP has gathered information on fraud cases, and who their targets are.

AARP has hosted a survey asking participants to answer questions about safe shopping practices, and only 22% of respondents were able to get more than seven of the nine questions correct, highlighting a need for education around safe shopping.

Looking at who was most at risk, AARP found that only two in ten Latinos passed; that number dropping to one in ten for Black test takers.

Incidents of fraud match these results, with 72% of Latinos and 78% of Black consumers report being defrauded during the holidays.

Black consumers face some of the highest rates of fraud, such as 35% receiving false notifications from someone claiming to represent FedEx, UPS, or USPS about shipment issues, as compared to the general population at 29% (27% for Latinos).

Gift cards are another item that has been used to defraud consumers. While 67% of consumers intend to purchase them this year, 26% of AARP’s respondents report giving or receiving gift cards with no money on them.

One in three Latinos who bought gift cards report such fraud, with the average rising above one in three for Black customers. To combat this, AARP advises purchasing gift cards online, rather than in store as physical cards.

A graphic depicting various statistics about the rate of incidents of fraud against Latinos. Information presented on the graphic is included within the article.
Graphic courtesy of AARP.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payment services like Paypal, Venmo, and CashApp are all similar venues for fraud. But unlike other types of fraud, there is little to no way to get money back once stolen.

With 53% of consumers stating they will use a P2P service this holiday season — up from 45% last year — knowing how to recognize and understand attempts at fraud is key.

More now than ever, knowing how to practice safe shopping is important in protecting yourself from fraud criminals.

Important shopping practices AARP has identified are:

  • Avoid clicking on online ads or links in emails or texts; instead type the address or advertised item into a web browser and go to the site directly.
  • Do not give out your login information to retailers or members of an organization claiming they need it to solve a “problem.”
  • It is safest to use P2P payment services with trusted contacts or those you can verify the identity of.
  • Credit cards have more consumer protections than other forms of payment.
  • Keeping device antivirus up to date, or turning on automatic updates, is critical to protection against the latest threats.

The AARP Fraud Watch Network is a free resource that provides information on identifying scams, offers support groups for those going through fraud, and can connect victims with fraud helpline specialists.


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