Protect yourself from online holiday shopping schemes

NORFOLK – As the holiday shopping is at an all time high, criminals are gearing up for a busy season of their own.

The FBI is warning holiday shoppers of schemes designed to take your money and personal information, especially online.

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is

Criminals can offer too-good-to-be-true deals through phishing emails or advertisements.  Some will offer items at extremely low prices or promise gift cards as an incentive to buy a product. Some products with shockingly low prices might not be the same product advertised.

Be wary of unsolicited emails

Don’t open unsolicited emails and do NOT click on any links attached. Look out for suspicious sites, phishing emails or ads offering items at unrealistic discounts. You could end up paying for an item, giving away your personal information and credit card details and receive nothing in return.

Do your research

Make sure a site is secure and legit before providing your credit card information. Don’t trust a site just because it says it’s secure.

Beware of social media posts

There have been several coupon schemes circulating through Facebook, most recently a “coupon” for $40 at ALDI. After clicking on the post to claim your “coupon,” you are taken to what appears to be an official survey site. However, the page is a fake and the survey is designed to steal your personal information.

Protect yourself

Secure your banking and credit accounts with strong passwords, as well as rewards accounts, online accounts that save your payment information or accounts containing private, personal information.

Check your credit card and bank statements regularly for fraudulent charges.

So you fell for the scheme…now what?

It happens to the best of us. If you suspect you’ve been victimized:

  • Contact your financial institution immediately upon suspecting or discovering a fraudulent transfer.
  • Request that your bank reach out to the financial institution where the fraudulent transfer was sent.
  • Contact local law enforcement.
  • File a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov, regardless of dollar loss.