ATLANTA - Friday will kick off the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season.
As you make your list and check it twice, federal agents at Atlanta’s FBI field office want you to check to make sure you’re not getting scammed.
"These are huge numbers that we are looking at," said Jenna Sellitto, a spokesperson for the FBI. "People need to be aware where they’re shopping, where they’re putting their credit cards in."
At the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office in Atlanta, two cybercrime teams are working constantly to track scams and they’ve been busy.
Sellitto said in the 2022 holiday season, more than 1400 Georgians reported losses at $7.1 million from Internet crime scams like not receiving payment or getting scammed online.
Agents said if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Here’s a list of the most prevalent scams the Atlanta FBI field office reports:
One type of increasing online scam is a puppy scam. Crooks use social media or other websites to offer puppies for sale and take money but never deliver the animal. They may also ask for additional money for fictitious reasons such as veterinarian bills. From January 1, 2023, through October 15, 2023, The FBI's Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3), received about 3,500 complaints related to puppy scams, with about $6.6 million in losses to the public.
The FBI defines this crime as goods or services are shipped, and payment is never rendered (nonpayment). Payment is sent, and goods or services are never received, or are of lesser quality (non-delivery). Through Oct. 15, 2023, IC3 has received over 40,000 complaints related to non-payment/non-delivery crimes, with losses of approximately $250 million. In the 2022 annual report these numbers were 51,679 complaints with losses of $281 million
The FBI anticipates a higher loss in funds with investment scams this year, primarily due to the increase in Cryptocurrency Confidence scams which are one type of investment scam following particular typologies to scam victims.
Smartphone App Scams
Some mobile apps, often disguised as games and offered for free, are designed to steal personal information. Before downloading an app from an unknown source, consumers should research the company selling it or giving it away, and look online for third-party reviews of the product.
Gift Card Scams
Consumers should be careful if someone asks them to purchase gift cards for them. In these scams, victims get either a spoofed email, a spoofed phone call, or a spoofed text from a person in authority asking the victim to purchase multiple gift cards for either personal or business reasons.
Fraudulent charity scams are common during the holiday season. Perpetrators set up false charities and profit from individuals who believe they are making donations to legitimate charitable organizations.
Agents suggest you check your credit card statements routinely, especially after the holiday season.
- Ensure a site is secure and reputable before providing a credit card number online. Don’t trust a site just because it claims to be secure.
- Beware of purchases or services that require payment with a gift card or through quick payment transfer sites or apps.
- Beware of providing credit card information when requested through unsolicited emails.
- Do not respond to unsolicited emails.
- Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited email.
- Be cautious of emails claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses.
- Verify requests for personal information from any business or financial institution by contacting them using the main contact information on their official website.