December 5, 2017

FBI Tech Tuesday—Building a Digital Defense Against Holiday Scams (Part 2)

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week, building a digital defense against holiday scams.

Last week, we talked about how to protect your bank account from scam artists in this shopping season. This week, a look at other frauds that will put your festivities in a funk.

Chances are that you are getting fewer Christmas cards than you used to—and when you do, they are just as likely to be the electronic kind as opposed to those that show up in the mailbox at the curb. In some cases, these e-cards don't even say who sent them. Don't click on any links or attachments, even if you think you know who addressed them to you. Even the most well-meaning friends and family can inadvertently send malware with their wishes for joy and happiness.

Next, scam artists are looking to take advantage of your good nature in this giving season. All kinds of legitimate non-profits are asking for donations to give kids gifts, collect for the homeless, or help with the recent tragedy. Charity scams, especially this time of year, may try to look legit by copying the look or links from these real organizations. Don't click on any of those links or give to an online solicitation. Go look up the charity yourself, ensure that it is real and make a donation, if you wish, through that public web portal.

Package delivery scams are a real problem this time of year, too. If you get multiple shipments to your home—sometimes daily—you may forget what you ordered when. In this scam, the fraudster texts or e-mails you to tell you there was a problem with a package delivery. He may ask for a “redelivery fee”—or the link you just clicked on is a “phishing” attack where you have given the scammer access to your computer. Keep track of what you bought and when it should be delivered. If you receive such a notice from a delivery company, don't respond to the text or e-mail—call the company directly to resolve any issues.

In a twist to this scam, you pay for an item, but the seller takes your money and never sends you the package. He spoofs a tracking number and makes it look as if a delivery company dropped the package at your home. You assume someone stole the item from your front porch. In this case, make sure you check with the delivery company to ensure that your address matches the tracking company’s info.

Finally, after all this holiday stress, you may be looking to get away for some R & R. This is the perfect time for the fraudster to pitch you on a cheap vacation to a luxury resort. The plane tickets and hotel stay may not be real, or you may get to the so-called resort and find out it wasn't the lavish treat you were expecting. If you need a tropical escape, make sure to deal with mainstream airline companies and travel agents to ensure you get the trip you need.

If you have been a victim of a cyber scam, make sure to file a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at

Next week, we will talk about the risks of asking Santa to put “Internet of Things” devices on your wish list this holiday season.