FBI SHARES TIPS TO AVOID BECOMING A VICTIM
Editor’s Note: With an unpresecendented number of holiday shoppers choosing to purchase gifts online, the number of online shopping scams has increased as well. During this Christmas shopping season, The Post Newspaper will publish a series of stories to help advise our readers avoid the the minefields that undesireables have waiting.
By Christina Garza
Public Affairs Officer
FBI Houston Division
(HOUSTON, TX) – With the holiday shopping season underway, criminals are also gearing up to do a little ‘shopping’ of their own. The FBI reminds you to look out for scams designed to steal your money and personal information, especially while shopping online.
When shopping online, make sure a site is secure and reputable before providing your credit card number. Don’t trust a site just because it claims to be secure. Beware of purchases or services that require you to pay with a gift card.
If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often scheme to defraud consumers by offering too-good-to-be-true deals via phishing emails or advertisements. Such schemes may offer brand name merchandise at extremely low discounts or promise gift cards as an incentive to purchase a product. Other sites may offer products at a great price, but the products being sold are not the same as the products advertised.
Steer clear of suspicious sites, phishing emails, or ads offering items at unrealistic discounts. You may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information and credit card details, and receive nothing in return except a compromised identity. Bottom line, do not open any unsolicited emails and do not click on any links attached.
Beware of posts on social media sites that appear to offer vouchers or gift cards, especially deals that are too good to be true, such as free gift cards. Some may pose as holiday promotions or contests. It may even appear one of your friends shared the link with you. Often, these scams lead you to participate in an online survey that is actually designed to steal personal information.
Be careful if someone asks you to purchase gift cards for them. In these scams, the victims received either a spoofed email, a spoofed phone call, or a spoofed text from a person in authority requesting the victim purchase multiple gift cards for either personal or business reasons. The gift cards are then used to facilitate the purchase of goods and services which may or may not be legitimate.
Protect yourself. Secure your banking and credit accounts with strong and different passwords, as well as all your other accounts that contain anything of value, such as: rewards accounts, online accounts that save your payment information, or accounts containing your private, personal information.
Check your credit card and bank statements regularly to make sure no fraudulent charges have been made to your account.
If you suspect you’ve been victimized:
- Contact your financial institution immediately upon suspecting or discovering a fraudulent transfer.
- Request that your bank reach out to the financial institution where the fraudulent transfer was sent.
- Contact law enforcement.
- File a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.IC3.gov, regardless of dollar loss.
For more information, contact Ms. Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org.