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FBI Urges Online Shoppers To Be Aware Of Holiday, COVID Scams

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As holiday shopping heats up online this week, COVID-19 restrictions are driving even more shoppers online than in past years. Online scammers are waiting, and working overtime to steal your cash and personal information.

The FBI warns us to be on alert for the telltale signs of of online scams, many of which we’ve seen before. Right now, they’re also telling us to be wary of any scams related to COVID-19.

“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” said Supervisory Special Agent Casey Harrington, who is over the FBI cyber squad in Salt Lake City. “People have to be patient, be aware. Be vigilant. Know what you’re clicking on before you click.”

To protect yourself and your financial information the FBI has these tips:

  • Make sure a website is legitimate before providing financial or personal information.
  • If a deal from an unknown seller looks too good to be true, it may be a scam.
  • Do not click on e-mails or text message links from unknown senders.
  • Be wary of any emails from people you do not know asking you to click on links, download attachments, or trying to redirect you to different sites.
  • Also, be wary of any pop-up ads offering free items, or gift cards, or asking you to take a quiz or survey.

“The type of scams are the same,” said Harrington. “The themes change year-to-year. So, this year there are going to be some Covid things in there.”

Scammers will try to prey upon that.

“People offering unproven treatments, or unproven tests, or vaccines through emails or even telephone calls. They’re trying to get your health insurance information or your personally identifiable information,” said the FBI agent.

When a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment is available, you will not find out through a pop-up ad or a link in an email.

“We’re telling people to be very careful when it comes to Covid emails or websites,” said Harrington.

Also be aware of scammers pretending to be Amazon, Netflix, or the bank of one of your credit cards. They may tell you there’s a problem with your account to get you to click on their link.

“There’s going to be more people online,” the agent said. “More people working from home. There’s more people doing school online. So, there’s more targets and more vulnerable people this year more than ever.”

When you are online, do business with people and companies you know. If you don’t know them, look them up and find out who they are.

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