FBI Warns Americans of Insidious Online Holiday Scams

FBI Warns Americans of Insidious Online Holiday Scams

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The holiday shopping season provides numerous ways for scammers to fool unsuspecting victims. How can shoppers avoid the most devious online scams this year? The FBI released a list of the most common online schemes that scammers employ. Here are some top tips from law enforcement to sidestep these holiday tricks.

Romance Scams 

The dating site scam is a modern twist on the classic confidence scheme. Criminals will act like potential dates over dating apps, tricking victims with fake pictures. They attempt to win the affection of an unsuspecting victim, chatting with them consistently over weeks or months. Once the victim trusts the criminal, the con artist asks for money.

These scams are insidious because the criminal usually keeps asking for money until the victim empties their bank account. They’ll make up a plausible enough story about why they need the money: to buy Christmas presents for family, to pay for medical bills, or anything in between.

Don’t trust anyone you meet online if they won’t video chat with you. People who contact you via dating apps shouldn’t resist meeting you in a public place. If someone you haven’t met in person asks you for money, treat this as a red flag that they’re trying to scam you.

Tech Support Scams

According to law enforcement, scammers posing as tech support are more common than ever. These schemes involve texts or emails warning users about a virus on their device. When victims respond to these messages, scammers will pose as “tech support,” offering to help remove the virus if the user gives them access to their device.

Never give anyone remote control of your computer. Once a scammer has access to your device, they can log into your bank account and initiate wire transfers. When this happens, victims often have little recourse. Banks consider transfers from your home device genuine, making it tricky to prove you didn’t authorize the transfer.

Shopping Scams

Never follow an email that offers to take you to a website for steep discounts. Scammers set up fake websites that look genuine and direct would-be victims to them with emails. These false sites are fronts to steal your credit card information, passwords, and other personal information.

Double-check the URL of any site you shop on. If the address bar doesn’t match the webpage you’re looking at, then you’ve landed on a phishing site. Remember, you should never input your personal information on pages you can’t verify.