With the Holiday season in full swing, more and more potential victims are targeted by scammers taking advantage of COVID-19 to run some of their most classic schemes. With online shopping becoming the main source of purchasing for individuals looking to buy holiday deals, treats, and gifts, cybercriminals have adapted their techniques to target these people specifically.
FBI Warns the Public of Holiday Scams
A press release from the FBI Minneapolis reveals the potential risk of scammers while sharing their insights on common scams. The special agent in charge of the FBI's Minneapolis Field Office, Michael Paul, said that scammers are looking forward to the holidays to "swindle unsuspecting shoppers."
The Minneapolis Field Office issued a warning reminding shoppers to beware of these scams along with a list of some of the most common holiday scams in play. These scams include online shopping scams, social media shopping scams, work-from-home scams, gift card scams, charity scams, and reshipping scams.
Online Shopping Scams
Online shopping scams work by scammers offering "too-good-to-be-true" deals through ads or phishing emails. These invitations would lure victims with websites that may sell brand-name merchandise at extremely affordable prices. The FBI warns that the products being sold might not be the same products advertised.
According to the FBI, consumers should stick to trustworthy sites and avoid ads offering unrealistic discounts with special coupons. The risk of these online shopping scams would be victims giving away their personal information and credit cards while getting nothing in return.
Learn more about online shopping scams.
Other Popular Scams
Social media shopping scams work through posts on social media sites offering gift vouchers through posts or circulating links. Most of the time, participants are then asked to answer a survey in which scammers would steal their personal information. Sometimes, these ads could lead to fraudulent links that are also designed to steal participants' information.
Work-from-home scams offer work or opportunities for participants to earn money. These job postings could steal the applicant's information relying on convenience as the main selling point.
Some scams work by asking individuals to purchase gift cards for them, sometimes with the promise of being paid a larger amount. A good amount of these incidents are also combined with requests for wire transfer payments. To learn more about the classic Business Email Compromise scenarios, click here.
There are also scams designed to prowl on good-hearted victims wanting to donate to charity. This scam simply works by encouraging individuals to contribute to a legitimate charitable organization through an unorthodox method. These scams solicit through email campaigns, cold calls, crowdfunding, or fake social media accounts or websites. More information can be found here.
Another more technical type of scam is the reshipping scam which involves fraudsters using stolen credit cards to buy items online that are usually expensive. Instead of sending to the billing address, the goods are sent to a "reshipper" location. The items are then repacked then sold in the black market. The FBI warns that fraudsters convince victims to become their "money mules."
The Severity of Holiday Scams
In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission received over 2.1 million fraud reports which led to consumers losing over $3.3 billion. This number is almost double of what consumers lost to scams in 2019, which was $1.8 billion.
$1.2 billion was reportedly lost to impostor scams where the criminals would impersonate their victims and steal money through the stolen identity. Online shopping resulted in a loss of $246 million for consumers. On October 12, the FTC refunded $300,000 to people that lost money to a tech support scheme.
While these numbers dated back in 2020, an updated report is expected to be filed should holiday scammers cause more damage this holiday season. With online shopping becoming more popular, the number of potential victims of these holiday scammers increases.
How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Holiday Scams
The FBI released thorough guidelines to help consumers avoid becoming victims of these holiday scams. The first on the list is for people to do their homework to ensure the legitimacy of the retailer, website, or person they are buying from. Shoppers are also encouraged to check the businesses' legitimacy on the Better Business Bureau's website before making any form of purchase.
Another highlighted thing to look out for is "significantly discounted prices" and retailers using free email services instead of company email addresses. The FBI highlighted that shoppers should also look out for purchases that require buyers to pay through a gift card.
A common way scammers steal the identity of victims or potentially install malware is through clicking on links from unsolicited emails. The public is advised to set up credit card transaction alerts to know whether their information was stolen if criminals are using their card and when an unauthorized purchase happened.
It's the most delightful time of the year, also for those looking to defraud your business. 76% of companies reported that their organizations had been targeted by business email compromise attempts in 2020. Stating that their Accounts Payable department is the most vulnerable,according to the 2021 Association for Financial Professionals Fraud and Control survey.While it's important to stay vigilant year round, business owners should pay special attention to fraud during the busy holiday season. With all of this in mind, how can a business protect itself? One of the best things you can do is set CAPTCHA.
More and more online retailers choose CAPTCHA to stop Holiday Scams.Fast-fashion giant SHEIN introduced GeeTest jigsaw puzzle CAPTCHA as their security vendor for many years.
GeeTest helps retailers accurately identify fraudsters from authentic users by analyzing hundreds of digital parameters and stopping all holiday scams in the smartest way including token cracking, Account take over and Gift Card Fraud, etc.
Christmas Deliveries Expected to Increase
The FTC also released a guide to help shoppers avoid being scammed through the global chip shortage. Due to the lack of supply of semiconductors, consumers should expect a delay in deliveries the nearer the holidays come.
An article by WKBN said that the US Postal Service had released a deadline for Christmas deliveries. According to the Postal Service, to get the packages delivered on December 25 in time for Christmas, packages should be shipped before Dec. 9 "Priority Mail and First-Class Mail, Dec. 15 for the USPS Retail Ground Service, and Dec. 16 for the USPS Priority Mail Express.
To prepare for the Christmas season, the Postal Service has installed 92 of 112 new package sorting machines while leasing 7.5 million square feet of more space to add 40 annexes. The Postal Service is also hiring 40,000 seasonal workers to help them with processing and delivering mail.
With the expected increase of deliveries this Holiday season, scammers are looking to capitalize on the broader potential victim pool. The FBI encourages victims to report their issues to the Internet Crime Complaint Center no matter how big or small the compromised amount.
This article is owned by Tech Times
Written by Urian B.