LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The FBI is warning about aggressive and deceptive holiday scams.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center shows that Americans lost $6.9 billion to fraud in 2021. That figure includes $335 million lost in online shopping and non-delivery scams.
The FBI breaks the scams down into these categories:
• Online shopping scams: Watch out for too-good-to-be-true deals, especially those delivered by phishing emails, fake advertisements and text messages, often with prompts encouraging a buyer to act quickly before they miss out.
If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is, the agency warns. Scams can run as far as encouraging a buyer to click on a link that will download malware, so not only does the buyer not receive what they paid for, but they are a victim of identity and financial information theft.
• Fraudulent social media posts: Be careful about posts that offer special deals, discounts, vouchers, or gift cards — especially this time of year when the offer appears to be part of a holiday promotion or contest. Scammers use these posts to trick victims into participating in online surveys to steal personal information.
Before you click on a social media link, check the website’s legitimacy before furnishing personal or credit card information.
• Charity scams: Criminals will use phone calls, email and fake websites to solicit donations on behalf of charities, the FBI warns. The agency said that these scams increase during the holidays as so many look to make donations.
The FBI offers a checklist of steps to avoid being an online scam victim:
- Secure financial accounts with strong passphrases and use a different passphrase for each account.
- Routinely check bank and credit card statements, especially after online purchases.
- Never give personal information such as birth date, social security number or home address to anyone you do not know.
- Be suspicious of offers, promotions and giveaways which require your personal information.
- Before donating to a charity, make sure it has a taxpayer ID or by calling the charity directly.
Finally, if you think you have been a fraud victim, call local law enforcement or the FBI. The FBI also has a website for reporting fraud.