FBI Warns of Scammers Targeting Holiday Shoppers

This week, the FBI’s Memphis Field Office issued guidance to holiday shoppers, urging them “to be aware of cyber criminals and their aggressive and creative ways to steal money and personal information,” with cyber criminals especially active during the Christmas shopping season.

The FBI notes that online bad actors often use “many techniques to fool potential victims, including fraudulent auction sales, reshipping merchandise purchased with a stolen credit card, sale of fraudulent or stolen gift cards through auction sites at discounted prices, and phishing emails advertising brand name merchandise for bargain prices or emails promoting the sale of merchandise that ends up being a counterfeit product.”

In avoiding the plethora of fraudulent activity one might encounter online, the FBI released a list of tips that can be employed to avoid becoming a cyber-fraud victim during the holidays:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) email.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited email.
  • Be cautious of emails claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Always run a virus scan on attachment before opening.
  • Avoid filling out forms contained in email messages that ask for personal information.
  • Always compare the link in the email to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match.
  • Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the email, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited email. If the email appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
  • Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the email to verify that the email is genuine.
  • If you are requested to act quickly or there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively.
  • If you receive a request for personal information from a business or financial institution, always look up the main contact information for the requesting company on an independent source (phone book, trusted Internet directory, legitimate billing statement, etc.) and use that contact information to verify the legitimacy of the request.

Most importantly, the FBI finally notes a piece of age-old wisdom: “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

Posted in The Takedown

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