Americans lost over $6.9 billion to fraud in 2021, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), including more than $335 million in online shopping and non-delivery scams. Shoppers looking for a good deal this holiday season need to be aware of aggressive and deceptive scams designed by criminals to steal money and personal information.
FBI Little Rock wants Arkansas shoppers to enjoy a scam-free holiday season by remaining vigilant against schemes like these three below:
Online Shopping Scams:
Criminals often offer too-good-to-be-true deals via phishing emails, text messages, and fake advertisements on social media. Maybe you were looking to buy tickets to an upcoming concert and found just what you were looking for, at a good deal, in an online marketplace. Those tickets could end up being bogus.
Or maybe you just located a new, hard-to-find gaming system… but in reality, you clicked on a link which gave a criminal the ability to download malware onto your device. The bottom line is, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Stay clear of unfamiliar sites offering unrealistic discounts on brand-name merchandise. Scammers frequently prey on bargain hunters by advertising “One Day Only” promotions for recognizable brands. Unless you use a skeptical eye, consumers may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information, and receive nothing in return except a compromised identity.
Fraudulent Social Media Posts:
Consumers should beware of posts on social media sites that appear to offer special deals, vouchers, or gift cards. Some may appear as holiday promotions or contests. Others may be sent by friends who shared a link on popular social media sites.
These scams frequently lead consumers to participate in online surveys designed to steal personal information. Before you click on a social media advertisement, check the legitimacy of the website before providing any personal information or credit card number.
Charity-related frauds increase during the holidays as individuals look to donate money to those less fortunate. Criminals use phone calls, email campaigns, and fake websites to solicit on behalf of fraudulent charities.
Scammers target people who want to donate to charity, then hoard well-intentioned donations while those in need never see a dime.
Here are 8 ways to avoid holiday fraud schemes:
Before shopping online, secure all your financial accounts with strong passphrases. Additionally, use different passphrases for each financial account.
Routinely check bank and credit card statements, especially after making online purchases and in the weeks following the holiday season.
Never give personal information – such as your date of birth, Social Security number, or home address -to anyone you do not know.
Be highly suspicious of promotions and giveaways which require your personal information.
Check the web address to make sure you’re on the official website. Sometimes the spelling is very close to a website though know, but it’s off by one letter to trick consumers.
Plug that when address into a whois search to find what company the URL is registered to and the address.
If it’s an unfamiliar company, find their street address and look it up on a map to see if it looks legitimate.
Look up reviews of the company. If they are not legitimate, they may still have some fake good reviews. However, it won’t be difficult to find many warnings from people who have had a bad experience.
If you’re still not sure whether you’ll get scammed, it’s best to move on to a company you’re familiar with. But still check to be sure you’re on the official website.
The mission of the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations) is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States. For more information, visit www.FBI.gov.