’Tis the Season for Scammers: Experts Weigh in on Fraud; Theft Online

With the novel coronavirus pandemic boosting online shopping figures to all-time holiday highs, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, estimates thousands of people will fall prey to scammers during the next few weeks.

According to a CreditCards.com survey, 71% of consumers plan to do the majority of their 2020 holiday shopping online, AARP reported, noting “spoofing” sites and fake accounts are already attempting to “snare bargain-hunting shoppers with bogus websites and social media campaigns that impersonate major brands.”

According to AARP, warning signs that a deal might not be legit include the following:

  • Huge discounts on hot gift items, especially when promoted on social media posts or unfamiliar websites;
  • Spelling errors or shoddy grammar on a retail website or in an email;
  • A shopping or travel site that does not list a phone number or street address for the business and offers only an email address or a fill-in contact form; or
  • A site that does not have a privacy policy.
  • According to IC3, nondelivery and nonpayment scams targeted more than 65,000 victims in 2018, resulting in nearly $184 million in losses.
  • Auction fraud, in which a product is misrepresented on an auction site, and gift card fraud, in which a seller insists payment be made with a prepaid card, are also prevalent during the holidays, the cybercrime complaint center stated.

And the links.

  • Be mindful of unsolicited links in text messages and emails claiming to offer updates on a package or delivery.
  • Barry Moore with the Central Virginia Better Business Bureau warned consumers that the safest way to avoid such scams is to be certain they personally initiate all tracking for any packages being delivered and to never, ever click on those suspect links.

“Frankly, a lot of that is just you go into that link you and end up downloading malware into your phone, and it just gets worse from there,” Moore told WWBT.

Moreover, he told the TV station that should a random text or email pop up that appears to be from a legitimate shipping company, consumers who did not sign up for a tracking service at the time of purchase should not click on the links. Instead, he suggested visiting the delivery company’s website and entering the tracking number.

IC3 offered the following guidelines to help consumers avoid scams this holiday season and beyond:

  • Always be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.
  • A credit card is generally the safest way to pay for an online purchase.
  • Always get a tracking number for items purchased online, so you can make sure they have been shipped and can follow the delivery process.
  • Be wary of sellers who post an auction or advertisement as if they reside in the United States, then respond to questions by stating they are out of the country on business, for a family emergency or a similar excuse.
  • Avoid sellers who post an auction or advertisement under one name but ask that payment be sent to someone else.
  • Consider canceling your purchase if a seller requests funds be wired directly to them via a money transfer company, prepaid card or bank-to-bank wire transfer because funds sent in these ways are virtually impossible to recover, and victims have no recourse.
  • Avoid sellers who act as authorized dealers or factory representatives of popular items in countries where there would be no such dealers.
  • Verify the legitimacy of a buyer or seller before moving forward with a purchase. If you’re using an online marketplace or auction website, check their feedback rating. Be wary of buyers and sellers with mostly unfavorable feedback ratings or no ratings at all.
  • Avoid buyers who request their purchase be shipped using a certain method to avoid customs or taxes inside another country.
  • Be suspect of any credit card purchases where the address of the cardholder does not match the shipping address. Always receive the cardholder’s authorization before shipping any products…   Fox23 News


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