TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The old saying “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is” should be your motto this holiday season.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, nearly 8,000 consumers fell victim to scammers, reporting more than $47 million in total losses. Those numbers ranked Arizona number 17 in the nation for scams, but now the FBI wants people to enjoy a scam-free holiday.
Below are three of the most common scams:
Online Shopping Scams
According to a news release, scammers may offer amazing deals through phishing e-mails or advertisements. They may offer brand-name merchandise at extremely low prices or offer gift cards as an incentive. Victims may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information, and receive nothing in return except a compromised identity.
Gift Card Scams
In this scam, victims can 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 gift cards are then used to facilitate the purchase of goods and services which may or may not be legitimate.
The holiday season is when law enforcement sees a spike in these types of scams as people 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 keep donations while those most in need never see a dime.
These are just a few types of scams the FBI has seen, but the possibility to fall victim to a scammer is endless. To help protect yourself, here are some tips from the FBI:
- Buy directly from a secure and reputable website
- Beware of social media posts that appear to offer special vouchers or gift cards, or particularly low prices
- Avoid solicitations or ads with misspelled words, broken English, or requests to pay for your order with a gift card
- Track your order through your original confirmation email
- Be cautious of emails claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders and scan all attachments for viruses if possible.
- Verify requests for personal information from any business or financial institution by contacting them using the main contact information on their official website
- Only donate to known and trusted charities, legitimate charities do not solicit donations via money transfer services or ask for donations via gift cards.
- Make contributions directly, rather than through an intermediary, and pay via credit card or check. Avoid cash donations, if possible.
If you think you are a victim of a scam, contact your bank immediately, then inform your local law enforcement agency.
For more information on internet scams and how you can protect yourself visit the FBI website.