‘Tis The Season for Holiday Scams: How you can protect yourself

Local News

 LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Too many Grinches trying to steal away the holidays; with scammers taking more than they will ever give.

The FBI is warning shoppers to look out for increasingly aggressive and unorthodox scams designed to steal away money and personal information by criminals.  According to the FBI’s Internet Complaint Center, in 2019 Arkansans lost over $22,681,000 due to various scams.  This year though, FBI Little Rock is wanting shoppers to enjoy their holidays scam-free.

The FBI is giving these helpful pointers so that you won’t get ripped off for the holidays.

Online Shopping Scams: If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is! Steer clear of unfamiliar sites offering unrealistic discounts on brand-name merchandise. Scammers frequently prey on Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargain hunters by advertising “One-Day Only” promotions from recognized brands. Without a skeptical eye, consumers may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information, and receive nothing in return except a compromised identity. 

Payment Red Flags: Be cautious of sellers and websites that demand payment solely through gift cards. Scammers sometimes encourage shoppers to conduct wire transfers, allowing criminals to quickly receive illicit funds. Credit cards provide several layers of security against fraud and are typically the safest way to conduct online shopping. 

Charity Scams: Charity-related frauds increase during the holidays as individuals seek 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 their well-intentioned donations while those most in need never see a dime.

Steps to avoid holiday fraud schemes:

▪ Before shopping online, secure all financial accounts with strong passwords or passphrases. Additionally, the FBI recommends using different passwords for each financial account.

▪ Check bank and credit card statements routinely, including 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 billing addresses— to anyone you do not know. 

▪ Be wary of promotions and giveaways that request your personal information. 

▪ Prior to donating to any charity, verify that they have a valid Taxpayer Identification number by visiting their website or calling the charity directly.

Reporting fraud: Arkansan who suspect they’ve been victimized should immediately contact their financial institution, then call their local law enforcement agency or FBI Little Rock at (501) 221-9100. Victims of holiday scams are also encouraged to file a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov.

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