Friday, December 18, 2020
The FBI’s Phoenix field office is warning buyers of common scams during the holiday shopping season.
In 2019, 7,795 Arizona consumers claimed a total loss of more than $47 million, according to a press release from the FBI.
The three main scams the FBI warns shoppers of include online shopping, gift card and charity scams.
Some online stores offer reduced brand-name merchandise that is compromised or doesn’t exist. Scammers often use phishing tactics in emails and advertisements, which involve fraudulent links or attachments that if clicked on, can reveal personal information.
The same thing can happen when clicking on fake social media posts that appear to be vouchers or gift cards but rather reveal personal information, according to the release.
Shoppers should also be wary of buying gift cards from outside sources requesting their purchase.
“In these scams, the victims receive either a spoofed email, a spoofed phone call, or a spoofed text from a person in authority requesting the victim purchase multiple gift cards for either personal or business reasons,” the FBI release said. “The gift cards are then used to facilitate the purchase of goods and services which may or may not be legitimate.”
They also caution against websites that only take payment through gift cards or wire transfers, which can give scammers access to “receive illicit funds.”
Scams can also involve false charity organizations asking for donations, as criminals can solicit funds through phone calls, emails and fake websites in the guise of a donation.
To avoid being scammed, the FBI recommends taking the following precautions:
Only make purchases from secure, reliable online shopping sites. Before entering your credit card information, make sure the site is secure.
Be wary of social media posts offering vouchers, gift cards or notably low prices.
Check the feedback ratings of websites before purchasing from them.
Avoid buying products based on ads with misspelled words, broken English or requests for payments via gift cards.
Keep track of your order through its original confirmation email.
Make a routine of checking your credit card statements for fraudulent charges.
Only open email attachments from known senders. Some attachments may contain viruses.
If a website asks for your personal information, verify the website is reputable by using the contact information from the site.
Legitimate charities don’t ask for donations through money transfers or gift cards—only donate directly to charities you trust, avoid intermediaries and watch for copycat charity names that don’t end in .org.
If you are scammed, the FBI asks you to call your financial institution immediately and inform your local law enforcement agency or FBI Phoenix at (623) 466-1999.
Complaints can also be filed through the FBI at ic3.gov.