COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–As the holiday shopping season begins, fraud experts with AARP urge consumers to remember that gift cards are for gifts, not criminals.

“It seems like with the holiday season the scammers are coming out with variations of the same thing,” said Veronica Carter, a trained volunteer with AARP’s Fraud Watch Network.

Carter and her fellow volunteer of five years, Phillip Smith said holiday shoppers can be a prime target for gift card scams.

“Holiday shopping is very, very important, that is where we’re getting scammed the most I’d say,” said Smith.

A recent AARP survey revealed nearly 1 in 3 adults said they or others they know have been asked to purchase a gift card to pay a bill, fee, debt, or to claim a prize.

“Any time you are at a website and they’re asking you to pay for something by gift card, wire transfer, or cash, it’s a scam, stay away from those,” said Carter.

These two experts warn that scammers can sound legitimate and often refer to gift card payments as “Electronic Transfers.”

“They are good at tugging at your emotional strings,” said Smith.

Consumers need to be on alert that con artists will try to contact you over the phone, through a text, or in an email.

“They could be contacted by an organization that appears to be the social security administration, the…

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