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Holiday Scams May Get You During the Local Shopping Season

The Christmas holiday is a little more than a week away, and area shoppers are making their best efforts to finish up their gift lists. Whether it’s in-store or online, they are getting helpful reminders to steer clear of scams. With shipping windows closing, in-person shopping is more of a likely option at this point.

Brad Anderson, state director for AARP Iowa, said that if possible, use your credit card instead of a debit card. In case the store is targeted by hackers, or if a return nightmare surfaces, credit cards provide more protections. And when making the rounds at stores, he cautioned price comparisons can sometimes lead you down a tricky path.

He pointed out if it appears to be too good to be true, your best bet is to buy the item in the store. Despite cybersecurity improvements, holiday shoppers are also urged to be careful using public Wi-Fi, as the connections are still targeted by hackers.

If you plan to buy online, experts say there are things to be mindful of before clicking the ‘purchase’ link.

Amy Nofziger, director of fraud victim support, AARP said fake social-media ads are a big concern this year, with fake ‘companies’ behind some posts. She added supply-chain issues could prompt people to bypass trusted companies through internet searches.

When entering an unfamiliar company’s name, she suggested typing the words ‘review,’ ‘scam’ and ‘complaints’ to see what pops up. Another common scam is a message disguised as a warning from well-known delivery companies, indicating something went wrong with a shipment to your address. Experts say they often include harmful links.

More fraud prevention tips are available on the AARP website.

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