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Cyber Monday: Tips to Avoid Being Scammed Online

The FBI offers information on scams set up to defraud consumers and a number of tips for shoppers to avoid being victims.

While Cyber Monday may be the answer to shopping in packed stores the day after Thanksgiving, there are always scammers out there ready to steal from and defraud unsuspecting consumers.

The FBI is warning shoppers to take care and be cautious of Internet deals that sound too good to be true, including items sold through online auctions or gift cards being sold online.

Often gift cards or tickets sold online through auctions or classified ads have been purchased using stolen credit cards, according to the Internet Crime Complain Center (IC3).  By the time a person who has purchased a ticket or gift card, it is usually deactivated.

Never provide credit card numbers, bank account information, personally identifiable information or wire money to a person who advertises items on auction or classified ad sites when items are advertised at a price that is too good to be true, according to IC3.

“One day only” sale sites pop up more online during the holiday season. The sites claim to offer hot items, but when consumers purchase from these sites, the item purchased doesn’t arrive and the credit card information gathered is used fraudulently, according to IC3.

In addition, phishing scams try to defraud consumers using texts, phone calls and e-mails, according to IC3. The texts, calls or e-mails may appear to be for real and from a major retailer, but if they ask for a consumers credit card to verify information, they are most likely a scam.

“Type the retailer’s or financial institution’s website into a browser to log into your account,” IC3 says. “If the fraudster is insistent, ask him or her to read you the card number first or ask to call back. If it is a legitimate call, the company representative will have no problem with your calling back through the customer service line.”

Tips to avoid being a victim of cyber fraud:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Scan the attachments for viruses if possible.
  • Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
  • Always compare the link in the e-mail to the link you are actually directed to and determine if they actually match and will lead you to a legitimate site.
  • Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail 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 e-mail to verify if the e-mail 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 quickly.
  • Verify any requests for personal information from any business or financial institution by contacting them using the main contact information.
  • Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Source: FBI and IC3

For more information on e-scams, visit the FBI's website.

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