Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week, building a digital defense against shopping scams over the holidays.
‘Tis the season to fill those stockings — but don’t let fraudsters help you to empty your wallet in doing so.
Start by thinking of all those things on your shopping list. New purse for mom or new gadget for dad? Tickets to a Blazer game or concert, maybe? Perhaps the hot new toy that is impossible to find? How about some gift cards, preferably at a discount?
Never fear — everything that you want is just a click away — or so the scam artist wants you to think.
Fake websites are prevalent this time of year. You search for a particular item and find it on a professional looking website. Lucky you — the price is especially low considering it is allegedly a name-brand product or hard-to-get item. Warning signs that your great deal is going to be a big bust:
* The site isn’t secure. (You should look for the lock symbol and an “s” at the end of the “http” portion of the site’s URL).
* The site doesn’t have contact information for customer issues.
* The seller requires you to use a wire transfer or gift card to pay.
If you get taken by a fake website, the item you paid for will either be a cheap counterfeit or will never show up at all.
If you are buying tickets to an event, make sure you go through the team or act’s website — or a reputable re-seller. You don’t want to show up and find out that you are locked out.
Finally with gift cards — don’t respond to emails or texts offering discounts. You may be clicking on a phishing attack where the fraudster wants to steal your PII or personally identifiable information.
Likewise, if you are buying gift cards in a store — ensure that there is a secure PIN on the back and that it hasn’t already been scratched off and covered up. Fraudsters often record card numbers, wait for you to activate the cards and then cash them out before you’ve even gifted them to your friend.
Shop smartly and keep a list of everything you purchase online this holiday season, who or where you bought it from and when it should arrive. In the chaos of the season, you may not even realize that your must-have item is a no-show until it is too late.
If you have been a victim of a cyber scam, make sure to file a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
Next week — we will talk about some other kinds of holiday scams that could be arriving on your doorstep soon.