Fake Classified Ads, Gift Card Scams, Phishing Emails–Some of the online scams to be aware of this holiday season!

It’s that time of the year again!  Lots to do and very little time.  As you start your holiday shopping, it is important to take a few minutes to learn some useful tips to prevent scammers from ruining your holiday season.  Scammers online use many tricks to try to fool you into giving away your personal information.

Some popular scams these days are:

  • Fake classified ads or auction sales for products that do not exist.
  • Gift card scams where scammers sell you gift cards that were fraudulently obtained.  You should only purchase gift cards directly from the merchant or authorized retail merchant.
  • Phishing and social networking emails or text messages advising you there is a problem with your financial accounts.  Another scam to be aware of us is receiving email messages directing you to a fake Facebook or another spoofed social network site.

FBI’s Internet Crime and Complaint Center offers the following tips for staying safe this holiday season:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Always run a virus scan on attachment before opening.
  • Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
  • Always compare the link in the e-mail to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match.
  • Log 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. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
  • Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify that the e-mail is genuine.
  • If you are requested to act quickly or there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively.
  • If you receive a request for personal information from a business or financial institution, always look up the main contact information for the requesting company on an independent source (phone book, trusted internet directory, legitimate billing statement, etc.) and use that contact information to verify the legitimacy of the request.
  • Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

If you are a victim of cyberfraud or want to read more about how to stay safe, go to: New York Internet Fraud: Crimes and Prevention.

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