Fighting fraud in the holiday shopping season

Mike Festa of AARP Massachusetts discusses AARP's Fraud Watch Network.
Mike Festa

By Mike Festa, AARP Massachusetts State Director 

We may be in the holiday season, but for fraudsters it’s no time to take a holiday. In fact, many seem to step up their game during this time of year. So, AARP is here to help with the AARP Fraud Watch Network

Between the phishing emails and texts pretending to be government officials or online retailers needing your personal information and robocalls warning of money owed, it can be exhausting according to an AARP Fraud Watch Network report released last year during the holidays.

The report, “Preparing for the Holidays? So Are Criminals,” finds that three-quarters of U.S. consumers have experienced or been targeted by at least one form of fraud that can be tied to the holidays, including requests from (often fake) charities, online shopping scams and fraudulent communications about shipping problems.

  • 27% have had a package stolen from outside their doors.
  • 39% received a donation request in the past year that seemed fraudulent.
  • 35% have experienced fraud when trying to buy a product through an online ad.

During the holiday season you tend to get more emails and texts for legitimate holiday shopping deals. But, you may get just as many that are scams. And these criminals are so good at what they do, it can be hard to tell the difference.

There are some ways to help you stay safe this holiday season (and all year round). Be sure to stick to well-known websites when shopping and be careful of “too-good-to-be-true prices.” Use credit, not debit cards. You’ll be liable for fewer charges if the card is compromised by a scammer. Also, if you’re in the giving spirit, make sure your holiday donation is going to a real charity. Visit to find information on a charity before you donate.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself.

Of course, there’s fraud all year round. So, every month AARP Massachusetts holds Fraud Talk Tuesday. On the second Tuesday of each month, we have a live webinar that dives into one aspect of fraud. From romance scams to grandparent scams, we break them down. You’ll learn how to proactively spot scams, get guidance from our fraud specialists if you’ve been targeted, and feel more secure knowing that we advocate at the federal state, and local levels to protect consumers and enforce the law. You can find more information and some of the topics we’ll breakdown in 2024 on our website,

We’re always looking for help to get the word out about scams and ways to prevent fraud. Maybe you’d like to help. From online presentations to in-person talks in your community, AARP Fraud Watch Network volunteers teach, give support, and help spread awareness. It can be an invigorating and rewarding experience. Send us an email, if you’re interested. Remember if you can spot a scam, or help others spot a scam, you can stop a scam.



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