UNDATED (WJON News) - As holiday shopping reaches its peak, scammers are busy preying on shoppers while their minds are on other things.

Last year, victims over the age of 60 lost the most money, on average, over scams reported to the Federal Trade Commission.

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Cathy McLeer is the Minnesota State Director of AARP. She says text messages about lost packages are hot scams lately.

They're really designed to steal your payment or your personal information. So if you are expecting a package, if you ordered something online and you get one of those text messages, don't use the text message that came to you; go directly to your confirmation email or the website where you purchased it and find your tracking information there.

McLeer says most Americans believe scams have reached a crisis level, but many are resistant to talk about their experiences.

Most Americans, including 81% of those who are aged 50 and older, believe that scams and frauds have reached a crisis level. It's very, very prevalent because the scammers are so sophisticated. They're counting on you being distracted.

The AARP has set up the Fraud Watch Network to help people protect their money. In addition to the latest information on scams, they’re also asking for stories from people who have been a victim of scams. Those stories will be used in their advocacy efforts to help everyone stay one step ahead of the scammers.

Officials with the AARP Fraud Watch Network say the holidays are a perfect time to get together and talk about how to keep family and friends safe from scammers.

Some topics to bring up:

  • What is a question, story, or phrase that only family members would know? Use that story as a family “code word” to protect from artificial intelligence scams imitating a child’s voice to scam parents or grandparents.
  • Everyone has so many passwords that it’s hard to keep them straight. Use a password manager to keep them all safe.
  • Don’t be afraid to share your stories. Your experience may help someone else identify a scam.

To find the Fraud Watch Network, find the website here. Fraud specialists are also available by phone at 1-877-908-3360.



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