Oklahoma City’s FBI office warns public of online holiday shopping scams

TULSA, Okla. — The Oklahoma City FBI Division is reminding the public that the holiday shopping season puts shoppers at risk for online criminals that want to steal money or personal information.

“Shoppers need to be aware there are unscrupulous people out there working overtime to spoil your holidays,” said acting Special Agent in Charge Alvin Winston.

Winston continued, “Remember that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

In 2020 alone, Oklahomans lost more than $26 million in online scams.

According to the Oklahoma City’s FBI office, the two most prevalent holiday scams are non-delivery and non-payment crimes.

In a non-delivery scam, a buyer purchases goods or pays for a service they find online, but the items are never received. A non-payment scam involves goods or services being shipped, but the seller is never paid.

According to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center’s 2020 report, non-payment and non-delivery scams cost Oklahomans around $1.7 million last year.

Agents recommend that when buyers shop online, they should be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.

Similar scams to beware of are auction fraud. This is where a product is misrepresented on an auction site. Gift card fraud is another major scam this year, and this is when a seller asks you to pay with a pre-paid card.

The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center receives a large volume of complaints in the early months every year, and these complaints suggest a correlation with the previous holiday season’s shopping scams.

If you’ve been the victim of a scam, you should call your credit card company or your bank to dispute any suspicious charges. You should also contact local law enforcement and report the scam immediately at ic3.gov. This is also a good website to get information on the latest scams.

To avoid holiday scams, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center recommends that buyers and sellers practice good cybersecurity hygiene.

Internet users shouldn’t click on any suspicious links or attachments in emails, on websites or on social media.

Phishing scams and similar schemes can get you to click on links and give up personal information like names, passwords and even bank account numbers. In some cases, you may unknowingly download a virus onto your device.

Be especially wary if a company asks you to update your password or account information. If you sense this to be a scam, look up the company’s phone number and call to verify.

Always check each website’s URL to make sure the website is legitimate and secure. A website you’re buying products from should always have “http” at the beginning of the web address. If it doesn’t don’t enter any information on that website.

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. If you’re using an online marketplace or auction website, check their feedback and ratings. Be wary of buyers and sellers with mostly unfavorable reviews or no reviews 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 United States, 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.

When paying for goods or services online, the FBI warns that you never wire money directly to a seller.

Additionally, you should avoid paying for items with pre-paid gift cards. In these scams

Buyers should also 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 w

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. There is a risk that the scammer could steal the funds, and you’ll never receive the item.

FBI advised that if you use a credit card when shopping online, check your statement regularly. If you see a suspicious transaction, contact your credit card company to dispute the charge.

You should also always get tracking numbers for items you buy online, so you can make sure they have been shipped and can follow the delivery process closely.

Be suspect of any credit card purchases where the address of the cardholder doesn’t match the shipping address when you’re selling products or services. Always receive the cardholder’s authorization before shipping any products.