FBI Warns Against Christmas Scams

by Taylor Cunningham
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Beware of Christmas scams, Outsiders!

Christmastime is the season of peace and giving. But a few thousand Grinches are trying to capitalize on all the good tidings by scamming Americans out of their hard-earned money.

And with the holiday being less than two weeks away, the FBI is teaching consumers how to stay safe from Christmas scams.

The two most common scams to watch out for are non-payment and non-delivery scams. A non-payment scam is when a buyer tricks a seller into mailing an item. But the buyer either doesn’t pay for the merchandise, or they use a fraudulent payment method. In the second scenario, a consumer pays a seller and then never receives the item.

Only Buy From Reputable Sites to Avoid Christmas Scams

The best way to avoid falling victim to fraud is to only shop on trustworthy sites. And always be skeptical of unrealistic sales.

“As usual, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is,” the FBI urges.

Auction fraud is another way that criminals are tricking shoppers this year. This is when a seller intentionally misrepresents an item on a site like eBay. So, you end up paying high dollars for a dud.

Also, if a seller asks you to only pay with a pre-paid gift card, you should take your business elsewhere. If a scammer steals from a gift card, it’s almost impossible for authorities to return the funds.

The same is true with cryptocurrency and wire transfers. Those payment methods allow scammers to get their money fast. And again, there is no way to refund the victim.

And for those reasons, credit and debit cards are the safest way to shop this holiday season. Since cards are FDIC insured, banks can refund fraudulent charges. But the FBI recommends that everyone check their online statements regularly. That way, if a criminal gets a hold of your card number, your bank can cancel the card before it’s too late.

And as always, “never give personal information like your date of birth or Social Security number to anyone you don’t know.”

However, even the most vigilant consumers can be duped by online criminals. So if it happens to you, be proactive. As long as you follow the tips above and properly report the situation, a scammer can’t leave you with an empty checking account.

“Shoppers who believe they’ve been victimized should immediately contact their financial institution and their local law enforcement agency,” writes the FBI. “Victims of holiday and other scams are also encouraged to file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.”