The FBI Columbia Field Office is warning the public of common holiday scams ahead of the 2021 holiday season.
With the holidays upon us and seasonal shopping in full gear, criminals are set to look for opportunities to take advantage of consumers. The FBI is encouraging shoppers to be vigilant for scams that are designed to steal their money and personal information.
The two most prevalent holiday scams are non-delivery and non-payment crimes. The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received more than 17,000 complaints of non-delivery goods, resulting in over $53 million in losses during the 2020 holiday season.
“More than ever consumers are shopping online and using alternative payment methods, aside from cash,” said Susan Ferensic, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Columbia Field Office. “Criminals have adapted to the way we shop, and they work overtime to create elaborate schemes to steal from us.”
Some of the common holiday scams the FBI warns of are:
- Online shopping scams – Scammers offer deals through phishing e-mails or advertisements.
- Social media scams – Scammers use social media sites that appear to offer vouchers or gift cards. These scams often lead consumers to complete online surveys designed to steal personal information.
- Smartphone app scams – Scammers design mobile apps disguised as free games that steal personal information.
- Work-from-home scams – Scammers use websites and social media posts that offer working from home. Convenience is the attention grabber, but there may be fraudulent intentions.
- Gift card scams – Victims receive a spoofed e-mail, call, or text asking them to purchase multiple gift cards for person or business reasons.
- Charity scams – Criminals set up false charities and profit from individuals who believe they are donating to legitimate organizations.
If you believe you are victim of a scam, contact your financial institution immediately. You should also contact your local law enforcement agency. Finally, victims should file a complaint with IC3 by visiting www.IC3.gov.
For more information on holiday scams, visit www.fbi.gov/holidayscams.
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