The Christmas season is shifting into high gear, prompting many people to start browsing online stores for the perfect gift for a friend or loved one.
However, there are also risks whenever shopping online, and the FBI office in Houston is warning buyers and sellers to stay alert and aware of possible scams this holiday season.
The two most prevalent vacation scams are nondelivery and non-payment crimes, the office said. This happens when payment is made but no product is received, or when the goods are shipped but the seller never gets paid. An FBI press release said such scams cost people more than $ 265 million in 2020, according to its Internet Crime Complaint Center, while credit card fraud accounted for $ 129 million in losses.
“The IC3 receives a large number of complaints in the first few months of each year, suggesting a correlation with shopping scams from the previous holiday season,” the press release said.
Among other cautions, the FBI has warned buyers not to click on suspicious links or attachments in emails, on social media, or on websites because phishing and similar scams use these links. to get personal information such as their name, password, bank account number and More. Residents are also advised to check each website to make sure the URL is legitimate (using “https” in the web address) before entering any personal information and verifying the legitimacy of a buyer or seller. ‘a seller before proceeding with an online transaction.
Buyers should also avoid wire transfer money directly to sellers or use prepaid gift cards for online purchases, the FBI said.
Once an item has been purchased, the FBI said people should also monitor the shipping process to make sure nothing happened, which can be done by getting a tracking number for them. online shopping.
The FBI said residents should call their bank or credit card company to dispute a fraudulent debit, contact local law enforcement, and report the scam to the Internet Crime Complaints Center (IC3 ) from the FBI at www.ic3.gov if they believe they might have been victimized.