- As documented in its 2019 Internet Crime Report, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 467,361 complaints relating to internet-enabled crimes and scams.
- This massive influx in internet-enabled criminal activity caused individuals and businesses to lose $3.5 billion.
- According to a 2020 report by Statista, 88% of adults in the US engage in some type of online shopping, and that number is projected to climb even higher in 2021.
“Oh, the scammers outside are frightful, but the sales are so delightful, and since we’ve no place to go, buy some more, buy some more, buy some more!”
Let us face it, online shopping is convenient and, given that we are approximately one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping makes it easier for everyone to social distance. Unfortunately, scammers have developed more cutting-edge approaches to con unsuspecting victims online. This week’s post provides readers with an overview of 3 types of scams you are likely to see this holiday season, and how to avoid them.
- The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X Deal
Attempting to purchase a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series S/X is an extreme sport at this point. Die-hard gamers can be found camping out at your favorite gaming or electronic stores, hoping to be the luckily individuals who can claim the handful of consoles remaining in the stores’ inventory. Bots have practically made it impossible to purchase one of these next gen consoles online. With many consumers getting desperate, resellers and scammers, alike, have flocked to the internet to capitalize on all the hype. Some resellers have migrated to popular e-commerce platforms like Amazon and eBay, to resell their purchases for 2 to 4 times the original purchase price. To add insult to injury, some resellers are charging these exorbitant prices for just the console box alone.
Do not be duped by this scam! If you choose to purchase a console from a reseller, O’Mard Consulting Services, LLC recommends that you read the entire product description from top to bottom to ensure that you are paying for an actual console. Additionally, you should make your purchases via credit card or PayPal as these transactions can be easily disputed if the seller attempts to scam you. Be very wary of sellers who request payment via CashApp, Venmo, and prepaid gift cards, as these are typically red flags that someone is attempting to con you out of your hard-earned money!
- Charity Scams
Traditionally, the holidays are a time when most individuals and businesses are willing to help out the less fortunate. Sadly, scammers are very much aware of this fact, and often attempt to capitalize on people’s generosity. Be on the lookout for fraudulent charity scams, where a scammer masquerades as a false charity and attempts to profit off of your generosity. These scams typically make their rounds via e-mail campaigns, fake social media posts, fraudulent websites and, in some instances, in person, such as, in front of a sporting event. When in doubt, a simple online search can verify if said organization is truly a recognized non-profit.
- Work-From-Home Scams
As discussed in our earlier post, 3 Red Flags Typically Associated with Work-at-Home Scams, many individuals are looking for remote activities to supplement their income, as we enter yet another month of working during a global pandemic. If you combine this with the fact that some people look for additional work during the holidays to enhance their spending and gift-giving lifestyles, you will understand why remote work is such a lucrative target for scammers. Scammers typically try to capitalize on the knowledge that victims are looking for convenient jobs they can complete from the comforts of their homes. Work-from-home job seekers should always research the job posting, company, or individuals offering remote employment opportunities.
Remember, if the job offer seems too good to be true, most likely it is!
The FBI also recommends the following steps be taken in order to avoid scams during these festive times:
- Before shopping online, secure all financial accounts with strong passwords or passphrases. Additionally, the FBI recommends using different passwords for each financial account.
- Check bank and credit card statements routinely, including, after making online purchases and in the weeks following the holiday season.
- Never give personal information — such as your date of birth, Social Security number, or billing addresses — to anyone you do not know.
- Be wary of promotions and giveaways that request your personal information.
- Prior to donating to any charity, verify that they have a valid Taxpayer Identification number by visiting their website or calling the charity directly.
At the end of the day, you should be able to shop online this holiday season without having to worry about scammers trying to rip you off. Whether you are trying to purchase the latest gaming console, donating to charity, or looking for work-from-home opportunities, O’Mard Consulting Services, LLC has you covered with information needed to defeat scammers. As always, make sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter for additional tips and tricks to defeat the bad guys and gals.
If you or a friend have fallen victim to an online scam, do not hesitate to:
- Report the activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
- Notify your bank, if you have discovered fraudulent or suspicious activity on your account and collaborate with your bank to stop and/or reverse any transactions.
- Ask if your bank can contact the financial institution where the fraudulent transaction transpired, since the incoming financial institution may be able to freeze the scammers account.
- Contact us if you have additional questions, comments, or concerns.