FBI Warning: ‘Tis the Season for Holiday Scams
As we enter the 2022 holiday season, Arkansas residents must remain mindful of criminals who care less about giving and more about stealing. Shoppers looking for a good deal this holiday season need to be aware of aggressive and deceptive scams designed by criminals to steal money and personal information. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), Americans lost over $6.9 billion to fraudsters just in 2021, including more than $335 million in online shopping and non-delivery scams. This year, FBI Little Rock wants Arkansas shoppers to enjoy a scam-free holiday season by remaining vigilant against the below schemes.
Online Shopping Scams: Criminals often offer too-good-to-be-true deals via phishing emails, text messages, and fake advertisements on social media. Perhaps you were looking to buy tickets to an upcoming concert and found just what you were looking for—at a good deal—in an online marketplace? Those tickets could end up being bogus. Or maybe you just located a new, hard-to-find gaming system… but in reality, you clicked on a link which gave a criminal the ability to download malware onto your device. Bottom line is if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is! Stay clear of unfamiliar sites offering unrealistic discounts on brand-name merchandise. Scammers frequently prey on bargain hunters by advertising “One-Day Only” promotions for recognizable brands. Without employing a skeptical eye, consumers may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information, and receiving nothing in return except a compromised identity.
Fraudulent Social Media Posts: Consumers should beware of posts on social media sites that appear to offer special deals, vouchers, or gift cards. Some may appear as holiday promotions or contests. Others may be sent by friends who shared a link on popular social media sites. These scams frequently lead consumers to participate in online surveys designed to steal personal information. Before you click on a social media advertisement, do your due diligence and check the legitimacy of the website before providing any personal or credit card information.
Charity Scams: Charity-related frauds increase during the holidays as individuals look 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.
Steps to avoid holiday fraud schemes:
- Before shopping online, secure all your financial accounts with strong passphrases. Additionally, use different passphrases for each financial account.
- Routinely check bank and credit card statements, 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 home address— to anyone you do not know.
- Be highly suspicious of promotions and giveaways which require your personal information.
- Prior to donating to any charity, verify 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.