‘Tis the season for holiday online shopping scams; Don’t be a victim!

HOUSTON– With the holiday shopping season underway, criminals are also gearing up to do a little ‘shopping’ of their own. The FBI reminds you to look out for scams designed to steal your money and personal information, especially while shopping online.

If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Scammers often scheme to defraud consumers by offering too-good-to-be-true deals via phishing e-mails or advertisements. Such schemes may offer brand name merchandise at extremely low discounts or promise gift cards as an incentive to purchase a product. Other sites may offer products at a great price, but the products being sold are not the same as the products advertised.

Steer clear of suspicious sites, phishing emails, or ads offering items at unrealistic discounts. You may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information and credit card details, and receive nothing in return except a compromised identity. Bottom line, do not open any unsolicited emails and do not click on any links attached. Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages or social media ads that ask for personal information.

Verify any requests for personal information from any business or financial institution by contacting them using the main contact information on their official website. Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the e-mail instead of clicking on the link provided in the unsolicited e-mail.

When shopping online, research the legitimacy of the individual or company you are purchasing from.

If you purchase or receive theater, concerts, or sporting event tickets as a holiday gift, do not post pictures of the tickets on social media sites. Fraudsters can create a ticket using the barcode obtained from the photo and resell the ticket. Protect ticket barcodes as you would your credit card number, and never display them on social media.

Check your credit card and bank statements regularly to make sure no fraudulent charges have been made to your account.

Secure your banking and credit accounts with strong and different passwords, as well as all your other accounts that contain anything of value, such as: rewards accounts, online accounts that save your payment information, or accounts containing your private, personal information.

If you suspect you’ve been victimized:

•           Contact your financial institution immediately upon suspecting or discovering a fraudulent transfer.

•           Contact law enforcement.

•           Request that your bank reach out to the financial institution where the fraudulent transfer was sent.

•           File a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov, regardless of dollar loss.