Online holiday scams are a growing concern. During the gift giving season, thousands of people become victims of fraud. Criminals can rob you of not only your money, but your personal information. The most common scams during the holidays are delivery related crimes.
In a non-delivery scam, a buyer pays for goods or services they find online, but those items are never received. Essentially, a criminal promises a highly sought-after item and collects a payment. Then, the purchased item is never delivered. Often these criminals will advertise on popular social media platforms, and they will re-create a website, social media account, or a landing page of a popular brand. Many of these scams are conducted by organized crime groups that have set up websites, salespeople, call centers, and payment systems. Scammers also provide contracts, emailed invoices, proformas, and paperwork on official letterhead. Finally, victims are given fraudulent links or tracking numbers.
DELIVERY SCAMS & PHISHING
Some delivery scams start with the victim receiving a text message or an email that includes a link. When the link is clicked on, the site has a request for you to update your delivery or payment preferences. Sometimes, the link can install malware on your device. Other means of communication include voicemail messages with a callback number or a missed delivery notice on your door with a number to call.
These messages often look or sound legitimate, but you should never click a link or call back an unexpected phone number. Instead, contact the delivery service or seller directly using a verified number or website.
POSSIBLE DELIVERY SCAM WARNING SIGNS
- Unexpected requests for money in return for delivery of a package, often with a sense of urgency. You may have to pay a customs fee or tax before the delivery can be made.
- A request for personal or financial information.
- Links to misspelled or slightly altered website addresses.
- Scams often illegally spoof phone numbers and caller-id used in calls and texts to try to trick you into thinking that the number is from a legitimate company or even a government agency.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM HOLIDAY SCAMS
- Only purchase from legitimate companies and beware of bogus websites.
- Check online reviews and consumer protection groups.
- Do not disclose your personal or bank information.
- Be wary if asked to make a payment to a bank account located in a different country.
- Keep your radar on high alert, especially if you are asked to pay unplanned fees.
- Never pay with gift cards or prepaid credit cards. In these scams, a seller will ask you to send them a gift card number and PIN.
- Do not click any suspicious links or attachments in emails, on websites, or on social media.
- Be especially wary if a company asks you to update your password or account information. Look up the company’s phone number on your own and call the company.
- Check each website’s URL to make sure it’s legitimate and secure. A site you’re buying from should have https in the web address. If it doesn’t, don’t enter your information on that site.
- If you’re purchasing from a company for the first time, do your research and check reviews.
- Verify the legitimacy of a seller before purchasing. If you’re using an online marketplace or auction website, check their feedback rating. Be wary of buyers and sellers with mostly unfavorable feedback ratings or no ratings at all.
- Avoid sellers who act as authorized dealers or factory representatives of popular items.
- Never wire money directly to a seller.
- 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.
- Monitor the shipping process.
- Always get tracking numbers for items you buy online.
- To learn more about identity theft fraud safety visit ID Theft Center.
- If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 877-IDTHEFT (438-4338) or visit the Federal Trade Commission’s site to learn more.
- If you believe your Social Security Number is being used fraudulently contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213.
- It’s a good idea to get a copy of your credit report each year from each credit-reporting agency. You can get a free credit report yearly from the Annual Credit Report website at annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228 where you will go through a simple verification process over the phone. It is important that you obtain and review a copy of your credit report once a year to make sure your information is accurate.
- For financial literacy, check out Upgrade| our blog or our financial education page.
MORE AT PEARL HAWAII
Identity Theft Resource Center | 1-888-400-5530
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