Black Friday and Cyber Monday is the peak season for criminals, panhandlers and cyber thieves to use their aggressive and creative tactics to steal money and personal information.
The FBI reminds shoppers to be aware of scammers who fool victims by using fraudulent auction sales, stealing credit card or ATM information, selling fraudulent gift cards through auction sites at discounted prices, and phishing e-mails advertisements.
Although San Antonio recently passed a more aggressive law making it more difficult for panhandlers to approach people on street corners and downtown, there seems to be more homeless on the streets asking for money.
Thieves are out at shopping centers and parking lots preying on unaware and potential victims.
Officials are warning people not to provide anyone in person and on the Internet with their account numbers and personal identification numbers (PIN) if asked or solicited.
One common scam involves victims getting an e-mail message guiding the receiver to a spoofed Web site, a fake site or copy of a real Web site that is designed to trick victims into providing their personal information.
“Consumers are encouraged to beware of bargain e-mails advertising one day only promotions for recognized brands or Web sites,” the FBI is warning. “Fraudsters often use the hot items of the season to lure bargain hunters into providing credit card information. The old adage “if it seems too good to be true” is a good barometer to use to legitimize e-mails.”
Scammers know they can swindle bargain hunters on Black Friday or Cyber Monday by offering “one day only” sales.
“Consumers are encouraged to beware of e-mails, text messages, or postings that may lead to fraudulent sites offering bargains on brand name products,” the FBI cautions.
The FBI offers these tips to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:
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.
For free email notifications when Jack Dennis posts new articles, click SUBSCRIBE above. Jack can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: Texasjackson