It’s a busy time of year for everyone, including scammers. Unfortunately, the season of giving has also become a popular season for taking, with holiday scammers preying on online shoppers frantic to get that hit toy that’s sold out everywhere or to place their orders before shipping deadlines. Here are some tips from the FBI on how to protect yourself from holiday scams.
Online Shopping Scams
The most common holiday shopping scams are credit card fraud, non-delivery of items, and counterfeit goods. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reports that non-delivery scams cost consumers more than $196 million in 2019, while credit card fraud was responsible for $100 million—and that’s only what was reported to the IC3.
You might think you’re savvy enough not to fall victim to such scams, but they’re even on mainstream marketplace websites. Everything from counterfeit sandals to high-end cosmetics are sold as the real thing to unsuspecting consumers, who only realize they’ve been scammed once the items arrive.
Credit card fraud and non-delivery of items are rarer on the big-name websites, but instead often found on fly-by-night online stores that are designed to look legitimate, cash in, then disappear. The FBI recommends looking for https in the web address before entering your personal information and being wary of anything that sounds too good to be true. Never use prepaid gift cards or money transfers to pay for goods online; credit cards offer the best protection in case of disputes.
Phishing and Identity Theft
The holidays are also prime time for phishing scams and identity theft. You’ve undoubtedly seen people sharing links on social media that claim everyone who shares a link and fills out a form will receive a gift card, tickets to a theme park, or some other extravagant holiday gift from a generous corporation. “Well, it’s worth a try,” people write as they click through and share the post.
Needless to say, this isn’t a good idea. Phishing scams use irresistible offers to get people to click on links and give up their personal information or download malware. A scammer might even specifically target real estate agents and attorneys in such phishing schemes in order to take control of their email accounts and use them for real estate wire fraud scams. While wire fraud prevention tools like ClosingLock can help provide protection, it’s also important to safeguard your personal information and passwords by avoiding offers that seem suspicious and not clicking on unfamiliar links.
What to Do When You’re a Victim of Fraud During the Holidays
If you’re a victim of fraud this holiday season, the FBI recommends first calling your credit card or bank to see if the transaction can be reversed, then calling local law enforcement and also reporting the scam to ic3.gov.
Learn More About ClosingLock
While we can’t protect you from holiday scams, ClosingLock can protect you and your clients from real estate wire fraud scams by providing a more secure closing process. Contact us today to learn more about our services.