PROMO 660 x 440 Tips - Scam Alert Caution Sign - iStock

Avoid the latest holiday scams with these tips

Suzanne Potter

(California News Service) With the holiday shopping season in full swing, scammers are hard at work, so the experts have some tips on how to shop smarter.

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 for AARP, cautioned 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," Stokes suggested. "That way, you're sure that the link isn't malicious, you know, it could be a really good fake. "

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 advised pulling your gift card from the middle or back of the rack, and then examining it closely to lower your chances of buying one which has been altered.

Stokes pointed out authorities are also getting more reports of people receiving a scam text message purportedly from FedEx, U-P-S, or the Postal Service, saying there is a problem with your shipment and giving you a link she warned 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 explained.

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.