Scammers love to draw from your emotions and quick reactions to what seems to be an urgent situation. One of their favorites is to pose as a business or government official to pressure you into sending them money or personal information. Now, some scammers are pretending to be some of your favorite shopping websites, phishing for your personal information.
Please be aware if you get a call from someone who claims to be with “YourFavoriteStore.com” or any business you do business with, telling you a large amount of money has been charged to your credit card for a purchase. This could be a scam attempting to cause a quick reaction and make an error in judgement providing private details to someone with malicious intent.
If this seems suspicious, it probably is. They may even attempt to get you to call “YourFavoriteStores.com” support number that they provide. Scammers want you to call the number they give so they can ask for your passwords, credit card number, and other sensitive information to get your money. If you get a call like this, there are a few steps you should take:
- Hang up. Do not call them back on the number they gave you. If you are concerned about an order you did not place, contact the business through a customer service phone number or email you know is legitimate. You can usually find a company’s real information on their website.
- Check your credit card account. If you see a charge you do not recognize, file a dispute with your credit card company immediately.
- Report the fake call to the business. Make sure to use the contact information from their website – not the information from the phone call. They or you can report the infraction to the FTC.
If you gave information to a business imposter, immediately change your password and any other accounts that shared the same password or a similar variant of that password.
IdentityTheft.gov can provide great tips protect yourself.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (I3C) has released an alert on a recent increase in online shopping scams. The scams direct victims to fraudulent websites via ads on social media platforms and popular online search engines’ shopping pages.
According to complaints received by the FBI, an increasing number of victims have not received items they purchased from websites offering low prices on items such as gym equipment, small appliances, tools, and furniture. Victims reported they were led to these websites via ads on social media platforms or while searching for specific items on online search engines’ “shopping” pages. Victims purchased items from these websites because prices were consistently lower than those offered by other online retail stores. Complainants indicated the following:
- Disposable face masks shipped from China were received regardless of what was ordered.
- Payment was made using an online money transfer service.
- The retail websites provided valid but unassociated U.S. addresses and telephone numbers under a “Contact Us” link, misleading victims to believe the retailer was located within the U.S.
- Many of the websites used content copied from legitimate sites; in addition, the same unassociated addresses and telephone numbers were listed for multiple retailers.
TIPS TO AVOID BEING VICTIMIZED
- Do your homework on the retailer to ensure it is legitimate.
- Check the Whois Public Internet Directory for the retailer’s domain registration information.
- Conduct a business inquiry of the online retailer on the Better Business Bureau’s website (www.bbb.org).
- Check other websites regarding the company for reviews and complaints.
- Check the contact details of the website on the “Contact Us” page, specifically the address, email, and phone number, to confirm whether the retailer is legitimate.
- Be wary of online retailers offering goods at significantly discounted prices.
- Be wary of online retailers who use a free email service instead of a company email address.
- Do not judge a company by their website; flashy websites can be set up and taken down quickly.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE A VICTIM
If you are a victim of an online shopping scam, the FBI recommends taking the following actions:
- Report the activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov or your local FBI field office, which can be located at >www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices.
- Report the activity to the online payment service used for the financial transaction.
- Contact your financial institution immediately upon discovering any fraudulent or suspicious activity and direct them to stop or reverse the transactions.
- Ask your financial institution to contact the corresponding financial institution where the fraudulent or suspicious transfer was sent.
If you believe you are the victim of an Internet scam or cybercrime, or if you want to report suspicious activity, please visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov.