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Tips to avoid the latest holiday scams

Man with laptop at home at Christmas
About 57% of Americans plan to shop online during the holidays this year, according to a survey from Statista.

The most common types of scams these days are online shopping scams, empty gift cards and package delivery scams, according to AARP Fraudwatch. Kathy Stokes, director of fraud prevention programs with AARP, cautions that you should never click on a link directly from social media or an unsolicited email or text.

"If you get an email from, let's say Amazon or Etsy or something, instead of clicking on that link that they give you, go and type that address into your web browser yourself. That way, you're sure that the link isn't malicious, you know, it could be a really good fake," Stokes says.

Scammers are also tampering with gift cards and placing them back on the rack, so the card gets drained shortly after a person pays for it at the register. Experts advise pulling your gift card from the middle or back of the rack, and then examining it closely to lower your chances of buying one that has been altered.

Stokes says authorities are also getting more reports of people receiving a scam text message — purportedly from FedEx, UPS or the Postal Service — saying there's a problem with your shipment and giving you a link she says you should never click.

"Quite often what they're trying to do there is capture your keying on your keyboard — capturing your logins, your passwords, your user account names — and all of that is intended to steal your money right from your accounts," Stokes explains.

Scammers like to target people who get regular income from the government, so veterans and those receiving disability payments should be especially wary.

For more information, check out Stokes' appearance on the AARP podcast In Clear Terms or call the FraudWatch helpline, 877-908-3360.