Oregon FBI: Ho, ho – Vacation scams abound online, so be careful


PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A seasonal warning Wednesday from the Oregon FBI: If you’re shopping online this holiday season, be on the lookout for scammers trying to steal a deal, too!

During the holiday shopping season 2020, the FBI Internet Crime Complaints Center (IC3.gov) received more than 17,000 complaints about the non-delivery of goods, resulting in losses of more than $ 53 million. The FBI predicts that number could rise during the 2021 holiday season due to rumors of commodity shortages and the ongoing pandemic.

“Often when we talk about cybercrime we are referring to massive intrusions into financial institutions or ransomware attacks against large vendors. Small computer scams carried out by individuals or groups can be equally frustrating and difficult for families at this time of year when all you want to do is give your family the perfect gift. The best thing you can do to be a smart shopper is to know what scams are and to take some basic precautions, ”says Kieran L. Ramsey, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon.

Here is an overview of the most common scams:

Online shopping scams:

Scammers often come up with offers that are too good to be true through phishing emails, social media posts, or advertisements. Maybe you were trying to buy tickets for the next big concert or sporting event and found exactly what you were looking for – for a good price – in an online marketplace? These tickets could end up being fake.

Or, maybe, do you think you’ve just tagged a hard-to-find item as a new gaming system? Or a designer bag at an extremely low price? If you actually receive a delivery, which is unlikely, the box may not contain the item you ordered in the condition you thought it would arrive.

In the meantime, if you’ve clicked on a link to access the offer, you’ve likely given the scammer access to download malware onto your device, and you’ve provided them with personal financial information and credit card details. debit / credit.

Social media shopping scams:

Consumers should be wary of posts on social media sites that appear to be offering specials, coupons, or gift cards. Some may appear as holiday promotions or contests. Others may appear to be from known friends who shared the link. Often, these scams lead consumers to take an online survey designed to steal personal information.

If you click on an ad through a social media platform, use your due diligence to verify the legitimacy of the website before providing a credit card or personal information.

Gift card scams:

Gift cards are popular and save a lot of time, but you should watch out for sellers who say they can get you cards below market value. Also beware of buying a card from a store if it looks like the security PIN on the back has been discovered and retrieved. Your best bet is to buy digital gift cards directly from the online merchant.

Another twist of this scam involves a person receiving a request to purchase bulk gift cards. Here’s how it works: The victim receives a spoofed email, phone call, or text from someone they believe to be in a position of authority (such as a company executive). The scammer tells the victim to buy multiple gift cards as gifts. The victim does so, then passes the card numbers and PINs to the “executive” who collects the value.

Charity scams:

Charity fraud increases during the holiday season when people want to give tax-deductible gifts at the end of the year or just want to contribute to a good cause. These seasonal scams can be more difficult to stop due to their wide reach, limited duration, and when done online, minimal monitoring.

Bad actors target victims through cold calls, email campaigns, crowdfunding platforms, or fake social media accounts and websites. Scammers make it easy for victims to donate money and feel they are making a difference. The scammer will embezzle some or all of the funds for personal use, and those who need it most will never see the donations.

Tips to avoid being a victim:

  • Pay for items using a dedicated online shopping credit card, frequently checking the card statement, and never saving payment information to online accounts.
  • Never shop using public Wi-Fi.
  • Beware of vendors who require payment by gift card, wire transfer, cash, or cryptocurrency.
  • Research the seller to ensure legitimacy. Check reviews and search online for the seller’s name and the words “scam” or “fraud”.
  • Check the contact details listed on the website to make sure the seller is real and reachable by phone or email.
  • Confirm return and refund policies.
  • Beware of online retailers who use a free email service instead of a corporate email address.
  • Don’t judge a business on their website. Flashy websites can be set up and deleted quickly.
  • Do not click on links or provide personal or financial information in an unsolicited email or social media post.
  • Secure credit card accounts, even rewards accounts, with strong passwords or passphrases. Change passwords or passphrases regularly.
  • Make charitable donations directly, rather than through a middleman, and pay by credit card or check. Avoid cash donations, if possible.
  • Only buy gift cards directly from a trusted merchant.
  • Make sure the antivirus / malware software is up to date and block pop-up windows.

What to do if you are a victim:

If you’ve been scammed online, the FBI recommends that you take the following steps:

  • Report the activity to the Internet Complaints Center at IC3.gov, regardless of the dollar loss. Provide all relevant information in the complaint.
  • Immediately contact your financial institution as soon as you discover fraudulent or suspicious activity and ask them to stop or cancel transactions.
  • Ask your financial institution to contact the corresponding financial institution where the fraudulent or suspicious transfer was sent.

For additional information and consumer alerts, and to report scams to the FBI, visit IC3.gov.

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