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November 23, 2022 Fraud & Scams

How to Avoid Scams During the Holidays

‘Tis the season for all things festive; decorations, time with friends and family, cookie baking (and eating), to name a few. Don’t let scammers steal your holiday joy!


According to AARP, there are several holiday-specific scams to watch out for charity scams, delivery scams, and travel scams.

Charity Scams: Non-profit organizations rely on the generosity of people to support their important mission and delivery strategies.  December is a popular time for people to make charitable donations. While the need is great for many organizations, charity scammers find a way to take advantage of people’s generosity. Do your homework to ensure that your donation is going to an organization that serves others and not lining the pockets of the scammers. One resource to help you in your research is Charity Navigator, a tool that provides unbiased ratings about thousands of organizations.

Red flags for charity scams may include pressure from the solicitor to donate right now or a request for payment by cash, gift card, or wire transfer. A legitimate charity will welcome your contribution whenever you decide to make it, with no pressure. Scammers prefer payments by cash, gift card, or wire transfer because the money is easy to access and difficult to track. It is important to be always vigilant especially during the holiday season.

It is important to keep your personal information private. Do not share your Social Security number, date of birth, or bank account information with anyone soliciting a donation. Scammers use this kind of information to not only steal money, but also your identity.

Delivery Scams: Most of us have probably ordered something online, especially during the holidays. Guess what? The scammers are ready with fake tracking links, updated delivery preferences, and messages stating a problem with package delivery. The Better Business Bureau provides important information about delivery scams and how you can avoid these scams, not just during the holiday season.

Travel Scams: The scammers leave no stone unturned and that holds true for travel arrangements as well. The bottom line, be careful and know what to watch out for.

Here are some important reminders, not just for the holidays but for all the days:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Don’t share personal information (Medicare number, Social Security number, bank account or credit card information) with someone who contacts you out of the blue.
  • Governmental agencies (Medicare, Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service) will not call you and ask for you to verify information.

To report charity scams, contact the Federal Trade Commission.

To learn more about Medicare-related scams, visit the Wisconsin Senior Medicare Patrol’s website or call our toll-free, confidential Helpline at (888) 818-2611.