Many Americans are grateful for the holiday season because they can spend time with their families and friends. Retail stores also get into the holiday spirit by offering their customers discount prices, which leads to higher traffic for their business.  But the holiday season also attracts a lot of scamming and fraud. 

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and The National Newspaper Publisher Association (NNPA) want to help inform Black Americans on how to stay scam-free and fraud-free for this holiday season. 

“At least 78% of Black Americans experience fraud once every holiday season,” said Kathy Strokes, director of the AARP fraud prevention program. “Many tactics used to steal money are fraudulent donation requests, fake shipping issues, telemarketing scams, and debt collector calls,” 

Strokes also pointed out that the success rate of the different types of fraud depended on which age group was targeted. People in the 18 to 34 age group are 70% more likely to become victims of online and social media scams, while those aged 45 to 64 are at a 47%. 

She also explained the use of a debit card versus a credit card plays a role in scamming, as Black Americans have an 80% chance of being scammed using a debit card versus only a 64% chance of being scammed using a credit card. 

Strokes is against gift cards, as scammers have found a way to access the gift cards people purchase by taking them and taking pictures of the card number and pin, then putting the cards back on the rack and waiting for people to activate them. 

Travel scams are also prevalent during the holiday season and have led to over 30% of travelers being scammed by booking through third-party sites and apps. Strokes advises readers to book directly through airlines and hotels and not through sites offering the best deals, as those are the easiest ways to lure in consumers.

The use of peer to peer (P2P) apps is also something consumers should be cautious of, as a simple mistake like putting the wrong digit or misplacing a single letter can have you sending money to the wrong person. Strokes warns that  Cashapp is a bad idea as it offers the least protection compared to other P2P apps. 

“If you buy something using Cash App, if you put the wrong number or receive the item but it’s not as described, you will never receive your money back,” she said. “A lot of risks go into using Cash App, because there are no guidelines or consumer protection policies.”

She recommends only dealing with retailers and businesses readers have experience with and researching sites found on social media.

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