It’s the winter holidays again and the time of the year when most of us indulge our shopping urges. However, a warning from FBI now tells internet users to keep an eye out for online shopping scams which may swindle you.
The agency’s statement is not a surprise, given that every holiday season, many scammers launch their initiatives to dip into the pockets of others and rip them of their money. With so many real deals going on at this time of the year, some of us may fall for that extra-sweet deal which may turn out to be fake. So advising caution is understandable.
According to FBI Special Agent Paul M. Abbate, “Fraud schemes are often associated with products or gift cards being sold for dramatically reduced prices; ‘one day only’ websites, offering sales on high-demand items; and ‘phishing’ e-mails, text messages, or phone calls that purport to come from established and well-known retailers, seeking shoppers to verify credit card numbers, bank accounts, or detailed personal information.”
In the official statement, the agency then goes on to hespecify a few guidelines which should be followed to avoid any instances of online fraud. The list of these guidelines is reproduced below:
- Purchase merchandise only from reputable sellers.
- Obtain a physical address and phone number rather than a Post Office box and call the seller to see if the number is correct and working.
- Send an e-mail to the seller to make sure the e-mail address is active.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau in the seller’s area.
- Inquire about returns and warranties.
- Be wary of overseas sellers, who may not be subject to recourse by U.S. law enforcement.
- Do not judge a company by its website. Impressive-looking websites can beset up quickly.
- Use a credit card for purchases rather than a money order or personal check if your credit card company allows you to dispute charges if something goeswrong.
- Shop around to educate yourself about the price range for the item; if the dealis too good to be true, it probably is not legitimate.
The best thing to do is to ensure that the deal you are availing is from an authentic vendor and never rely on email-based offers. That being said, if you still run into some sort of scam, be sure to report it at Internet Crime Complaint Center.