With the holiday shopping season in full swing, the FBI is reminding consumers to be wary of criminals who target buyers.
They often offer brand name merchandise for deals too good to be true or gift card incentives if you buying something first.
Consumers should never provide their personal information to an unknown party or website.
Emails presenting items at huge discounts or special coupons are often rip-offs as well as emails that advocate an urgent response.
Instead of clicking on links from emails that supposedly go to a company’s website, shoppers should go to the website directly. Consumers can end up paying for an item, giving away personal information and getting nothing in return.
Criminals also use bait and switch tricks where buyers receive a product that is different from the one advertised.
When shopping for gift cards online the FBI urges consumers be wary of auction sites offering discount or bulk deals and in the store make sure no one has tampered with the protective scratch off area on the back of the card.
Criminals also use apps designed to steal personal information from smartphones. Often these apps are disguised as games that can be downloaded for free. Research the company selling or giving away the app and look online for third party reviews before installing it.
The FBI recommends not posting to social media pictures of theater or concert tickets received as gifts. Ticket holders should protect the barcode like a credit card because fraudsters often scour social media sites to create a new ticket from the barcode and resell it.
During the holiday shopping season remember to check your credit card statement routinely (many banks offer online checking), cover your credit card number at stores and contact your bank immediately for any suspicious purchases on your account.
Victims can file a complaint at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.