‘Tis the season to be jolly! The joy and excitement we typically feel are even greater because we can finally celebrate with friends and family, after last year’s pandemic holidays at home. We’re still shopping online as much as ever before because it’s so darned convenient. But between all the shopping and partying, people can forget to protect themselves from becoming a holiday scammer’s next victim.
Holiday shopping scams can steal your money, personal information, and your festive mood. The FBI reports that every year, thousands of people become online holiday shopping crime victims. The two most common holiday scams are non-delivery, where a buyer pays for goods online that are never received, and non-payment, where goods are shipped but the seller is never paid. In 2020, these scams cost people more than $265 million. Credit card fraud cost another $129 million in losses. Gift card fraud is also “popular” during the holidays.
The FBI has some tips to protect yourself and your wallet during the holidays:
Practice good cybersecurity hygiene
- Don’t click any suspicious links or attachments in emails, on websites, or social media that could be a scam to get your personal information or download malware.
- Be especially wary if a company asks you to update your password or account information. Look up the company’s information on your own and contact them.
Know who you’re buying from or selling to
- Check each website’s URL to make sure it’s legitimate and secure. If a site you’re buying from it doesn’t have “https” in the address, don’t enter your information.
- Verify the legitimacy of a buyer or seller before moving forward. If you’re using an online marketplace or auction website, check their feedback rating.
- Avoid sellers who act as authorized dealers or factory representatives of popular items where no such deal is likely to exist.
Be careful how you pay
- Never wire money directly to a seller.
- Avoid paying for items with pre-paid gift cards. In these scams, a seller will ask for the gift card number and PIN. Instead of using that gift card for payment, the scammer will steal the funds, and you never receive your purchase.
- Use a credit card when shopping online and check your statement regularly. If you see a suspicious transaction, contact your credit card company to dispute the charge.
Keep your holiday season jolly and don’t get caught up in one of these scams while you are shopping and celebrating. Think you might be a holiday scam victim? Learn more about scams and how to protect yourself at the FBI website – https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/holiday-scams.