Written by The Herald-News
The FBI issued a press release to help prevent shoppers from being victims of cyber criminals and scammers who will try and steal their money and identity.
Criminals and scammers are known to use several techniques in an attempt to fool shoppers, such as reselling merchandise with a stolen credit card and promoting merchandise while attempting to acquire personal information.
Below are different types of scams used by cyber criminals during the holiday season.
Fraudulent Classified Ads or Auction Sales
Scammers will sometimes post classified ads or auctions for products they do not have. If you receive an auction product from someone other than the seller, the item may have been purchased with a stolen credit card number. You should always contact the seller to verify the account used to pay for the item belongs to you.
Another tip is to check each merchant’s number of sales, dates of sales, rating and feedback. One example of a suspicious seller could be if they have low number of sales with 100 percent positive feedback and all of the feedback was posted from around the same time period.
Customers should take caution and not provide any credit card or bank account information directly to the seller. Scammers will use your information and money to purchase items for their scheme. The FBI suggests to always use a legitimate payment service to protect your purchases.
Gift Card Scams
The FBI recommends that customers always purchase their gift cards directly from the business or authorized merchant. If you purchase your gift card from another source or it was obtained illegally, the business will deactivate the gift card and will not allow you to redeem it.
Phishing and Social Networking
Customers should be wary of any text messages or emails they receive about a problem regarding their bank, credit card or other financial accounts.
Scammers will request you to follow a link to update your account or correct the problem. This will often lead to a fraudulent website. Some emails will sometimes request you call a phone number to solve the problem. If you give any personal or financial information on these sites or phone numbers, such as your personal identification number, it will be stolen.
The FBI also encourages you to be wary of emails advertising special promotions for recognized brands or websites. Scammers will use popular merchandise and advertise with a bargain deal, to lure consumers into providing credit card information. You should also be on the lookout from bargain emails from websites you do not recognize.
With the popularity of businesses using social networks and text messaging to advertise their products, you should be careful of messages and postings as they may lead to fraudulent websites.
Here are some tips from the FBI that you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber criminals
1. Do not respond to unsolicited or spam e-mail.
2. Do not click on any links contained in the unsolicited or spam e-mail.
3. Be wary of emails containing attached files as they may contain viruses. Only open attachments from people you know and always run a virus scan before opening the file.
- Avoid filling out forms contained in emails that require personal information.
- Always compare the link in the e-mail to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match. A Google search can help in this.
- Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the email, instead of clicking on the link provided in an unsolicited email. If the email appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with, your statements or correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
7. Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify that the message is genuine.
8. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively. If the email wants you to act quickly or there is an emergency, it may be a scam.
- If you receive a request for personal information from a business or financial institution, always look up the main contact information for the requesting company on an independent source such as a phone number or a search engine. Use that contact information to verify the legitimacy of the request.
10. Remember that if an offer appears to be “too good to be true,” then it probably is.