BEDFORD, N.Y. -- With the holidays ramping up and seasonal shopping in full swing, criminals are also gearing up for a busy season.
Cyber criminals don't take the holidays off. In fact, they're especially busy trying to steal your money and personal information, according to the Bedford Police Department.
Police say shoppers should be more vigilant than ever for scams designed to steal their money and personal information.
Though criminals are often aggressive and creative in their efforts to obtain money and personal information, there are certain red flags and common schemes holiday shoppers can guard against this holiday season.
Online Shopping Scams:
If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often scheme to defraud consumers by offering too‐good‐to‐be‐true deals via phishing e‐mails or advertisements. Such schemes may offer brand name merchandise at extremely low discounts or promise gift cards as an incentive to purchase a product. Other sites may offer products at a great price, but the products being sold are not the same as the products advertised.
Steer clear of untrusted‐ sites or ads offering items at unrealistic discounts or with special coupons. You may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information and credit card details, and then receive nothing in return except a compromised identity. In addition, do not open any unsolicited emails and do not click on any links provided.
Social Media Scams:
Beware of posts on social media sites that appear to offer vouchers or gift cards, especially deals that are too good to be true, such as a free $500 gift card. Some may pose as holiday promotions or contests. It may even appear one of your friends shared the link with you. Often, these scams lead you to participate in an online survey that is actually designed to steal personal information.
In addition, if you purchase or receive theater, concerts, or sporting event tickets as a holiday gift, do not post pictures of the tickets on social media sites. Fraudsters can create a ticket using the barcode obtained from the photo and resell the ticket. Protect ticket barcodes as you would your credit card number, and never display them on social media.
Smartphone App Scams:
Be careful when downloading mobile applications. Some apps, often disguised as games and offered for free, may be designed to steal personal information. Before downloading an app from an unknown source, research the company selling it or giving it away, and look online for third‐party reviews of the product.
Here are some additional steps residents can take to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud this holiday season:
Check credit card statement routinely. If possible, set up credit card transaction auto alerts, or check your balance after every online purchase to ensure the proper amount was charged to your account. It is important to keep checking your card after the holiday season, as many fraudulent charges can show up even several weeks later.
Who To Contact If You Suspect You've Been Victimized:
- Contact your financial institution immediately upon suspecting or discovering a fraudulent transfer.
- Contact law enforcement.
- Request that your bank reach out to the financial institution where the fraudulent transfer was sent.
- File a complaint with the FBl's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov , regardless of dollar loss. Provide all relevant information in your complaint.