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With the holiday “cyber-shopping” season underway, online scammers seek to exploit consumers’ generosity and eagerness to find just the perfect gift. Some commonly reported scams include phishing emails offering deals on hard-to-find or brand-name items and offers of easy money to victims who will re-ship packages to additional destinations.
Already this holiday season, online sales have reached the billion-dollar mark for the first time ever, according to Adobe Systems, which analyzed 180 million visits to more than 1,000 retail sites. Predictably cyber scammers will want to capitalize on such brisk shopping volume.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reminds consumers to pay particular attention to their credit card and bank statements this time of year, as unrecognizable charges are often the first indicators of fraud.
As with any online purchase at any time of the year, shopping at reputable sites remains an excellent way to avoid falling victim to cyber scams. A common phishing technique involves an emailed offer of special savings on a product or service. The email offer might include an outbound link to a website or an in-mail form requesting personally identifiable information. These are techniques fraudsters will use to steal a person’s identity.
Offers from charities are common during this time of year as well. Unfortunately, online crooks look to exploit the generosity of others for their own gain through fake charity websites or email campaigns.
Also, according to IC3, “many fraudsters go to extreme lengths to have their own website appear ahead of a legitimate company on popular search engines.” One is well-advised to carefully screen search results before clicking on the first listing.
If you have received a scam email, file a complaint with IC3.
For additional information on cyber scams, go to the FBI’s New E-Scams & Warnings page.
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