FBI Warning: ‘Tis the Season for Holiday Scams
As we approach the holiday season, FBI Little Rock is warning Arkansans that scammers prefer to steal rather than give during this special time of year. Shoppers hunting for a good deal should be on the lookout for increasingly aggressive and innovative scams designed by criminals to steal money and personal information. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), Arkansans lost over $16,140,000 just in 2020 from to a variety of criminal scams. This year, FBI Little Rock wants shoppers statewide to enjoy a scam-free holiday season by remaining vigilant against the following schemes.
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 well-intentioned donations while those most in need never see a dime.
When shopping online during the holiday season—or any time of year—always be wary of deals that seem too good to be true, and do your part to avoid becoming a scammer’s next victim.
Online Shopping Scams: If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is! Stay away from 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. If you’re purchasing from a company for the first time, research the business and check reviews other customers have shared. If little to no information about a vendor exists, shop elsewhere.
Payment Red Flags: Be cautious of sellers and websites which demand payment solely through gift cards. Scammers sometimes encourage shoppers to conduct wire transfers, which allow criminals to quickly receive illicit funds. Using a credit card provides layers of security against fraud and is typically the safest way to conduct online shopping throughout the holidays.
Additional steps to avoid holiday fraud schemes:
- Before shopping online, secure all your financial accounts with strong passphrases. Additionally, the FBI recommends using different passphrases for each financial account.
- Check bank and credit card statements routinely, especially 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 suspicious of promotions and giveaways which 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: Shoppers 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.