PHILADELPHIA - December is a time to make merry, and scammers have their own ideas for how to celebrate at others' expense.
Mary Bach, who chairs AARP's Consumer Issues Task Force in Pennsylvania, said the organization has initiated a Fraud Watch Network to counteract them.
"There are lots and lots of scam artists out there that are trying to get their hands into our wallets, our pocketbooks, our bank accounts," she said.
Whether it's through phone calls, mail or the Internet, consumers must be ever-vigilant, she said, and going to aarp.org/holidayscams or calling 800.732.0999 can help.
Bach noted that December is the biggest month for charitable giving.
"Scammers are taking care of the generosity and the hard-earned dollars of so many people," she said, "by creating fake charities or falsely representing themselves as being part of a well-known group."
She said Americans spend an estimated $615 billion on all kinds of gifts, and a substantial portion - as much as $40 billion to $50 billion - will be lost to a variety of scam artists.