FBI warns of crooks targeting online shoppers during the holiday season

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warns of cybercriminals targeting online shoppers during the holiday season.

The FBI warns of cyber criminals targeting online shoppers during the holiday season. In this period netizens hope to take advantage of online bargains and are more active online, for this reason they are more exposed to the risk of scams.

The feds estimated that online shoppers could lose more than $53 million during this year’s holiday season to scams offering bargains and gifts that are hard to find due to merchandise shortages.

“During the 2020 holiday shopping season, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received over 17,000 complaints regarding the non-delivery of goods, resulting in losses over $53 million,” reads a public service announcement published by the FBI. “It is anticipated this number could increase during the 2021 holiday season due to rumors of merchandise shortages and the ongoing pandemic.”

Cybercriminals will attempt to entice their victims in multiple ways including:

  • E-mails advertising hot-ticket or products that are hard to find on the market, such as event tickets or gaming systems.
  • Untrusted websites and ads promoting unrealistic discounts and bargains.
  • Post on social media posts, apparently shared by a known friend, offering vouchers, gift cards, freebies, and contests.
  • Advertisements on social media platforms that promote non-existent or counterfeit items.
  • Online surveys designed to steal personal information.

Unsuspecting online shoppers could also fall victim of identity theft of phishing attack aimed at stealing their payment card data.

FBI also warns criminals will use legitimate website photos to promise non-existent pets to multiple buyers. Feds recommends purchasing a pet online only after met the animal and owner via video chat.

Below are the tips provided by the shared authorities:

  • Verify websites prior to making a purchase. Only purchase items from official, encryption-using websites. Web addresses should begin with https:// and include a locked padlock icon.
  • 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.
  • Pay for items using a credit card dedicated for online purchases, checking the card statement frequently, and never saving payment information in online accounts.
  • Be wary of sellers who accept only wire transfers, virtual currency, gift cards, or cash, as these are almost impossible to recover.
  • Never make purchases using public Wi-Fi.
  • Verify the legitimacy of a seller before you purchase, take steps such as looking at consumer reviews and checking with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Beware of sellers posting under one name but requesting funds to be sent to another individual, or any seller claiming to be inside the country but requesting funds to be sent to another country.
  • Only purchase gift cards directly from a trusted merchant.
  • Do not click on links or provide personal or financial information to an unsolicited email.
  • Make sure anti-virus/malware software is up to date and block pop-up windows.
  • Use safe passwords or pass phrases. Never use the same password on multiple accounts.
  • As always – if the deal sounds too good to be true, chances are it is a scam.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, FBI)

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Pierluigi Paganini: Pierluigi Paganini is member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group and Cyber G7 Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer. Editor-in-Chief at "Cyber Defense Magazine", Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog "Security Affairs" recently named a Top National Security Resource for US. Pierluigi is a member of the "The Hacker News" team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines. Author of the Books "The Deep Dark Web" and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.

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