Online holiday shopping scams abound. Every year, online criminals create new ways to steal your money, your personal information even your identity. The FBI has identified three very prevalent and aggressive online holiday shopping scams to watch out for.
Online Auction Scams
Internet criminals post classified ads or auctions for products they do not have. If you receive an auction product from a merchant or retail store, rather than directly from the auction seller, the item may have been purchased with someone else's stolen credit card number. Contact the merchant to verify the account used to pay for the item actually belongs to you.
Reduced or Free Shipping Scams
Be wary of unfamiliar websites or individuals offering reduced or free shipping to customers. In many instances, a fraudulent seller will provide shipping labels to their customers without first paying the delivery company. Packages shipped with these labels are intercepted and identified as fraudulent.
Gift Card Scams
Purchasing gift cards from auction sites or classified ads can be risky. If you need a gift card, it is safest to purchase it directly from the merchant or another authorized retail store. If the gift card merchant discovers the card you received from another source or auction was initially obtained fraudulently, the merchant will deactivate the gift card number and it will not be honored for purchases.
How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Cyber Crime
The FBI offers the following tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of these and other online scammers:
- Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) email.
- Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited email.
- Be cautious of email claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses.
- Avoid filling out forms contained in email messages that ask for personal information.
- Always compare the link in the email to the link you are actually directed to and determine if they actually match and will lead you to a legitimate site.
- Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the email to verify if the email is genuine.