FBI Salt Lake City warns Utahns of holiday shopping scams

Courtesy photo: Utah Department of Public Safety

Utah, Nov. 24, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) – The FBI Salt Lake City warns Utahns of Christmas shopping fraud because Black Friday is just two days away.

“As more people shop online, the FBI Salt Lake City Field Office is urging the public to remember the old adage: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is,” said a press release of the FBI SLC. “Buyers are encouraged to pay careful attention to what gifts they are buying and where they are buying those gifts.”

The two most common vacation scams are non-delivery and non-payment crimes. In situations where delivery does not go ahead, payment is sent but goods and services are never received, the press release said. In the case of non-payment fraud, goods and services are shipped but the seller is never paid.

According to the FBI’s 2020 Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) report, non-payment or non-delivery fraud costs more than $ 264 million. Credit card fraud caused an additional $ 129 million in losses.

In Utah, victims last year reported nearly $ 3.1 million in losses due to non-delivery or non-payment fraud. In Montana, losses from the same scams were $ 349,880 and Idaho was $ 688,153. Credit card fraud in Utah cost victims $ 1.5 million in 2020. The Montanans reported losses of $ 137,558 and in Idaho losses were $ 760,075 due to credit card fraud.

Casey Harrington, FBI special agent Salt Lake City, says the holidays are a big time of year for vacation cheats. “They want to use this online demand for toys and other products to try to get people to give up their personal information, credit card information, and login information so they can get financial benefits,” he said.

The FBI offers the following tips to help protect yourself while shopping online:

Know who you are buying from or who you are selling to.

  • Check the URL of each website to make sure it is legit and safe. A website that you shop from should have https in the web address. If not, please do not enter your information on this website.
  • If this is your first time shopping with a company, do your research and check reviews.
  • Verify the legitimacy of a buyer or seller before proceeding with a purchase. If you use an online marketplace or auction website, check out their feedback rating. Be wary of buyers and sellers with mostly poor reviews or no reviews at all.
  • Avoid sellers acting as authorized dealers or factory representatives of popular items in countries that do not have such offers.
  • Be wary of sellers posting an auction or ad as if they lived in the United States, and then respond to questions by indicating that they are out of the country for business, family emergencies, or similar reasons.
  • Avoid shoppers wishing to ship their purchase using one method and avoiding customs or taxes in another country.

Be careful how you pay.

  • Never send money directly to a seller.
  • Avoid paying for items with prepaid gift cards. These scams involve a seller asking you to send them a gift card number and PIN. Instead of using this gift card to make your payment, the scammer will steal the money and you will never receive your item.
  • Use a credit card when shopping online and check your bank statement regularly. If you see a suspicious transaction, contact your credit card company to dispute the charge.

Monitor the shipping process.

  • Always receive tracking numbers for items you buy online so you can make sure they have been shipped and keep track of the delivery process.
  • Be suspicious of credit card purchases where the cardholder’s address at the time of sale does not match the shipping address. Always obtain authorization from the cardholder before shipping any products.

If you suspect that you may have been a victim, contact your financial institution immediately, call your local law enforcement agency, and file a complaint at ic3.gov.

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