This year, more than in past years, many are relying on the convenience of online shopping. Unfortunately, many will also fall victim to unscrupulous people and website scams.
These tips from the IC3 can help you look out for scammers during the Christmas season or any other time of year:
- Always get a tracking number for items purchased online so you can make sure they have been shipped and can follow the delivery process.
- 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 sellers who post an auction or advertisement under one name but ask that payment be sent to someone else.
- Consider canceling your purchase if a seller requests funds to be paid via a money transfer, pre-paid card, bank-to-bank wire transfer, or gift card. Money sent in these ways is virtually impossible to recover, with no recourse for the victim. Most who ask for one of these forms of payment are perpetrating a scam. A credit card is generally the safest way for consumers to pay for an online purchase.
- Avoid sellers who act as authorized dealers or factory representatives of popular items in countries where there would be no such dealers.
- Verify the legitimacy of a seller before moving forward with a purchase. If you’re using an online marketplace or auction website, check their feedback rating. Be wary of sellers with mostly unfavorable feedback ratings or no ratings at all.
- Always be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.
If you believe you are the victim of an online scam, please report it to your local law enforcement, credit card company/banking institution, and FBI’s IC3.