Criminal activity of all sorts has been on the rise, and that includes scams. During the holidays, combined with human behavioral change getting used to rarely leaving one’s house as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is ripe for the taking.
Things are so bad that the FBI issued a press release to warn individuals of its existence as well as how to stay safe. Fox News reports “two of the most common scams are non-delivery scams and non-payment scams. The first involves a transaction where a buyer sends the seller money but never receives the item. In the second situation, the seller ships out the item, but the buyer never sends the payment (or provides a fraudulent payment).”
Most importantly, the FBI suggests everyone secure their financial accounts with very strong passwords. Additionally, they say it’s important to use a different password for each account. They also recommend regularly checking bank and credit card statements for fraudulent charges. This way, it can be dealt with immediately.
The FBI states credit cards offer the most protection and warn against buying anything in which the seller demands cryptocurrency or wire transfers. Criminals will be able to quickly receive and move funds, and usually in a way that is impossible to refund the victim.
Some scams specifically ask for payment only through gift cards. Similar to cryptocurrency and wire transfers, payments can be virtually impossible to return to those who have been victimized.
Nino Perrotta, Principal for the Sequoia Security Group says “the scams are absolutely out there.” The Security Group just unraveled a rental car scam. “The individual is telling folks that the offer is time-sensitive and that it could only be given to the individual through a gift card,” said Perrotta.
The scammers would not accept a credit card because they offer protection. A Sequoia agent had to go undercover and go along with the scam, coordinating calls and details about purchasing a gift card in order to catch the scammers that were claiming to be a popular rental car company.
The FBI release says never give personal information like your date of birth or Social Security number to anyone you are not certain of. Anyone who believes they have become a victim should “immediately contact their financial institution and their local law enforcement agency. Victims of holiday and other scams are also encouraged to file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov” states the FBI release.