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Online Shopping Scams during the Holidays

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 4:34 PM CST
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Data from the FTC and FBI says that Iowans alone lost $21 million to online shopping scams last year. The national total was over $4 Billion. Online shopping is the number one scam in both Iowa and Illinois. David McClellan is the President of Social Catfish and joins via Zoom to raise awareness of the top five online shopping scams to avoid.

Here are 5 Online Shopping Scams to Avoid This Holiday Season:

1. MISSING PACKAGE SCAM: Capitalizing on inevitable supply chain delays, scammers pretend to be FedEx and send an email with a link to track your package. When clicked on, these malicious links steal your personal and financial information. They also may text, leave voicemails, or place a “missed delivery” tag on your front door.

How to Avoid: Never click a link or call back a number from an unexpected delivery notice. Always contact the company directly using a verified number or website.

2. SOCIAL MEDIA SECRET SANTA: A pyramid scheme called “Secret Sister” is circulating on Facebook. Scammers recruit “sisters” with the promise that if they buy a $10 gift for another member, they will receive 36 gifts in return. A version of this scam includes exchanging bottles of wine.

How to Avoid: Do not respond to communication from “Secret Sister” or do an exchange “for the good of the sisterhood.”

3. FAKE RETAILERS AND WEBSITES: Look out for fake websites that advertise enormous sales on popular gift ideas that are out of stock everywhere else due to supply chain issues. Fake sites have a domain name with an extraneous letter or number, grammatical errors, and limited contact information.

How to Avoid: Research the company and read customer reviews before purchasing. Google their name with the word “scam” to see if anything comes up.

4. HOLIDAY CHARITY GIFT SCAM: In addition to traditional gifting, people may donate to charity on someone’s behalf. This increased during COVID-19 and ramps up every year during the season of giving. Scammers pose as a fake charity to solicit fraudulent donations. Often, they pick a name that sounds close to a well-known charity.

How to Avoid: Search the charity on a public database such as BBB Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator.

5. FAKE INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAYS: Around the holidays, brands and influencers offer free product giveaways. Scammers are using a technique called “like-farming,” where they ask you to like or comment on their post for a chance to win a holiday prize. They include malicious links and steal your personal information.

How to Avoid: Look for the blue checkmark which social media platforms use to verify a real page from copycats. Watch for typos and accounts with limited content.

Please let us know if you have any questions or need additional information.

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