FBI Springfield Warns About Holiday Scams
The holiday season is a busy time for shoppers and scammers alike. FBI Springfield is encouraging the public to be vigilant during the holidays to avoid scams designed to steal their money and personal information.
The two most prevalent holiday scams are non-delivery and non-payment crimes. In a non-delivery scam, a buyer pays for goods or services they find online, but those items are never received. Conversely, a non-payment scam involves goods or services being shipped, but the seller is never paid.
“Remembering the simple adage ‘If it looks too good to be true, it probably is,’ can go a long way in saving consumers from becoming victims,” said FBI Springfield Field Office Special Agent in Charge David Nanz. “Scammers are eager to take advantage of the increase in online shopping that comes with the holiday season. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, 649 Central and Southern Illinoisians lost $602,812 in non-payment/non-delivery schemes in 2021. This year as of October, 312 victims have lost $912,417. The bottom line is – do your homework, verify the source, and protect your personal information.”
Scammers can cleverly tailor their message to the holiday season by sending an e-mail containing a link to what looks like a great deal. However, clicking the link can download malware to your computer. This also can occur in pop-up ads on social media sites, like an ad for a free $100 gift card.
Many scams are found in links to quizzes or advertisements for free items. It is always important to check and verify. Visit the company’s website to see if the free items are advertised there as well. Also, consumers can call the company, or the local chamber of commerce to verify the company is legitimate.
Other common scams include investment scams, smartphone app scams, work-from-home scams and gift card and charity scams. Consumer alertness is key to avoid being duped by a scammer. The FBI suggests consumers do the following to reduce their chances of being victimized:
- Check your credit card statement routinely.
- If purchasing merchandise online, ensure it is from a reputable source.
- Don’t trust a site with your credit card information just because it claims to be secure.
- Be cognizant of web page addresses that look like familiar sites but are slightly different.
- Do not respond to unsolicited e-mails.
- Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
- Only open attachments from known senders.
- Only donate to known and trusted charities.
- Secure credit card accounts with strong passwords or passphrases.
- Be cautious of exaggerated claims of possible earnings or profits.
- Beware when money is required up front for instructions or products for employment.
- Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of the country.
If you believe you are a victim of a scam, contact your financial institution immediately. Contact law enforcement and file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov, regardless of dollar loss. You can also call FBI Springfield at 217-522-9675.