The holidays are almost here, which means family, food and shopping for the perfect gift.
Yet no one enjoys the holiday season more than scammers. It’s fertile ground for bad actors willing to make a deal that leaves you high and dry.
We call it holiday shopping scams season.
According to the latest data from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), non-payment and non-delivery scams cost Americans $337 million while credit card fraud accounts for another $173 million in losses.
“It’s so easy to be rushed and distracted this time of the year and that makes us vulnerable,” said Jeff Taylor, head of Commercial Fraud Forensics at Regions Bank. “Stay focused, protect your personal information and verify the seller before you click ‘pay.’ If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is!”
Tips to avoid holiday shopping scams
Just in time for Black Friday shopping extravaganzas, the FBI has great tips to help keep your money and personal information safe from holiday shopping scams:
- Practice good cybersecurity hygiene.
- Don’t click any suspicious links or attachments in emails, on websites, or on social media. Phishing scams and similar crimes get you to click on links and give up personal information like your name, password, and bank account number. In some cases, you may unknowingly download malware to your device.
- Be especially wary if a company asks you to update your password or account information. Look up the company’s phone number on your own and call the company.
- Know who you’re buying from or selling to.
- Check each website’s URL to make sure it’s legitimate and secure. A site you’re buying from should have https in the web address. If it doesn’t, don’t enter your information on that site.
- If you’re purchasing from a company for the first time, do your research and check reviews.
- Verify the legitimacy of a buyer or seller before moving forward with a purchase. If you’re using an online marketplace or auction website, check their feedback rating. Be wary of buyers and sellers with mostly unfavorable feedback ratings or no ratings at all.
- Avoid sellers who act as authorized dealers or factory representatives of popular items in countries where there would be no such deals.
- Be wary of sellers who post an auction or advertisement as if they reside in the U.S., then respond to questions by stating they are out of the country on business, family emergency or similar reasons.
- Avoid buyers who request their purchase be shipped using a certain method to avoid customs or taxes inside another country.
- Be careful how you pay.
- Never wire money directly to a seller.
- Avoid paying for items with pre-paid gift cards. In these scams, a seller will ask you to send them a gift card number and PIN. Instead of using that gift card for your payment, the scammer will steal the funds, and you’ll never receive your item.
- Use a credit card when shopping online and check your statement regularly. If you see a suspicious transaction, contact your credit card company to dispute the charge.
- Monitor the shipping process.
- Always get tracking numbers for items you buy online, so you can make sure they have been shipped and can follow the delivery process.
- Be suspect of any credit card purchases where the address of the cardholder does not match the shipping address when you are selling. Always receive the cardholder’s authorization before shipping any products.
Remember, you can find fraud prevention information year-round from us at regions.com.
The information presented is general in nature and should not be considered, legal, accounting or tax advice. Regions reminds its customers that they should be vigilant about fraud and security and that they are responsible for taking action to protect their computer systems. Fraud prevention requires a continuous review of your policies and practices, as the threat evolves daily. There is no guarantee that all fraudulent transactions will be prevented or that related financial losses will not occur. Visit regions.com/STOPFRAUD or speak with your banker for further information on how you can help prevent fraud.
Steps to Take if You Fall For a Scam
- Call your credit card company or your bank. Dispute any suspicious charges.
- Contact local law enforcement.
- Report the scam to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at gov.