SCAM ALERT: AARP warns of holiday scammers

DENVER (KKTV) - The AARP Foundation and Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman sent out a news release on Wednesday warning consumers about holiday scams. In the following release, you'll find links to resources, including a website that lets you verify the validity of charities, tips for safe online shopping, and a link to a survey they completed highlighting where seniors might be at risk and what they're concerned about.

The original release follows:

Fraud and scams can affect Coloradans of all ages and backgrounds any time of year. The holiday season is no exception. In fact, scammers might be working overtime during the holidays. A survey report, recently released by AARP Foundation ElderWatch, gauged the experience and knowledge of Coloradans 50 and older about potential holiday scams involving online shopping, gift cards, shipping packages and charitable giving.

“Protecting Colorado consumers from fraudsters and scammers is a cornerstone of the work that we do,” said Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. “It is disheartening to think that bad guys would take advantage of the holiday season to target older Coloradans and their families. To stop them, it is critical that consumers are vigilant this time of year and aware of the most prevalent scams.”

Click here for details on survey "Holiday Scams are ‘Snow’ Joke!"

Some key findings from the survey include:

-3 in 4 (76 percent) are concerned about their personal information while shopping online this holiday season, yet 1 in 4 (25 percent) indicated they are likely to use free public Wi-Fi to assist with holiday shopping.

-1 in 10 (13 percent) older Coloradans have been given/purchased a gift card that was already redeemed/had no money on it, and half (51 percent) don't know whether gift cards bought from grocery stores are safe from thieves or hackers.

-1 in 4 (25 percent) don't know they can help avoid package theft by telling delivery services where to leave the package, yet 1 in 5 (22 percent) report a package stolen from their or a neighbor's home.

-Most (67 percent) are unaware of charitynavigator.org, a charity watchdog site, yet over 2 in 5 (42 percent) believe they have been solicited by a fraudulent charity. Click here to visit Charity Navigator.

“It is clear through these survey results that many older Colorado consumers are savvy, but there still is plenty of education that can still be done to ensure they are not victimized by these cruel holiday-related scams,” said Mark Fetterhoff with AARP Foundation ElderWatch.

For tips on avoiding holiday fraud and scams, check out the Colorado Attorney General’s Consumer Holiday Guide by clicking here.

To report a scam or inquire about a potential fraud or scam call the AARP Foundation ElderWatch helpline: 1-800-222-4444.

Details about the survey:
The survey was conducted by the AARP Foundation in October 2018. Just over 1,000 (1,003) Colorado adults 50 and older who previously indicated they intended to shop for gifts and services for the holiday season took part in the survey. AARP says the survey has a sampling error of +/- 3.1 percent.

AARP Foundation ElderWatch:
According to the AARP, its ElderWatch is "a program with the Colorado Attorney General and AARP Foundation; its mission is to ensure that no older adults are left to suffer, alone and in silence, at the hands of those who exploit them. The program fights the financial exploitation of older Coloradans through education and outreach, data collection and the providing of assistance."

AARP Foundation
The AARP say its foundation "works to end senior poverty by helping vulnerable older adults build economic opportunity and social connectedness. As AARP’s charitable affiliate, we serve AARP members and nonmembers alike. Bolstered by vigorous legal advocacy, we spark bold, innovative solutions that foster resilience, strengthen communities and restore hope."