Tuesday, December 8, 2009

WATCH WHILE SHOPPING IN THIS SEASON

This holiday season, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has stated that shoppers should be cautious not to provide financial information directly to the seller, as fraudulent sellers would use this information to purchase items for their scheme from the provided financial account and suggested that individuals should always use a legitimate payment service to protect purchases.

According to the Bureau, “Scammers continue to aggressively create new ways to steal money and personal information using many techniques to fool potential victims. Such acts are fraudulent auction sales, reshipping merchandise purchased with a stolen credit card, and sale of fraudulent or stolen gift cards through auction sites at a discounted price including fraudulent Classified Ads or Auction Sales”.

The Bureau noted that internet criminals post classified ads or auctions for products they do not have, while expressing that if individuals receive an auction product from a merchant or retail store, rather than directly from the auction seller, the item may have been purchased with someone else's stolen credit card number, and advised that the individual should contact the merchant to verify the account used to pay for the items.

Concerning product delivery, the Bureau pointed out that unfamiliar Web sites or individuals selling reduced or free shipping to customers through auction sites many times are deemed to be fraudulent.

“In many instances, these Web sites or sellers provide shipping labels to their customers as a service. However, the delivery services providers are ultimately not being paid to deliver the package; therefore, packages shipped by the victims using these labels are intercepted by delivery service providers because they are identified as fraudulent” the Bureau added.

The FBI noted that individuals should diligently check each seller's rating and feedback along with their number of sales and the dates on which feedback was posted, while adding that individuals should be suspicious of a seller with 100% positive feedback, while observing if they have a low total number of feedback postings posted around same date and time.

The Bureau described different fraudulent practices which include Gift Card Scam; and advised that individuals should be careful about purchasing gift cards from auction sites or through classified ads, and thus added that if one needs a gift card, it is safest to purchase it directly from the merchant or another authorized retail store and if the gift card merchant discovers the card received from another source or auction was initially obtained fraudulently, the merchant would deactivate the gift card number and it would not be honored for purchases.

Phishing and Smishing Schemes is another identified by the Bureau, and suggested that individuals should be doubtful of e-mails or text messages they receive indicating a problem or question regarding their financial accounts.

In this scam, you are directed to follow a link or call the number provided in the message to update your account or correct the problem. The link actually directs the individuals to a fraudulent Web site or message that appears legitimate where any personal information provided maybe stolen such as account number and PIN.

Another scam involves victims receiving an e-mail message directing the recipient to a spoofed Web site which is a fake site or copy of a real Web site while misleading the recipient into providing personal information, which is routed to the scammer's computers.

However, the FBI suggested tips on how to overcome these fraudulent practices. They include not responding to unsolicited (spam) e-mail, not clicking on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail, being cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses and scanning attachments from known senders.

Others include avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information, comparing link in the e-mail to the link you are actually directed to and determine if they actually match and will lead to a legitimate site, logging on directly to the official Web site for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of "linking" to it from an unsolicited e-mail amongst others.

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