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FBI warns Arkansans of holiday scams

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, Arkansans lost over $16,140,000 in scams in 2020.

ARKANSAS, USA — The Little Rock FBI is warning Arkansans to be on the lookout for scams this holiday season.

The FBI says shoppers should look out for increasingly aggressive and innovative scams designed by criminals to steal money and personal information.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) says Arkansans lost over $16,140,000 in 2020 to a variety of scams. 

This year the Little Rock FBI says it wants shoppers to enjoy a scam-free holiday season. Officials are recommending shoppers to stay vigilant against charity and online shopping scams, and payment red flags.

Charity Scams: As the holidays approach, charity-related scams increase. These scams target people who are looking to donate to those who are less fortunate. Officials say scammers will ask for money on behalf of false charities. These scams can come in the following forms: 

  • Phone calls
  • Email campaign
  • Fake websites

Online Shopping Scams: Officials say if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. They say scammers frequently prey on Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers by advertising “One-Day Only” promotions from recognized brands.  Here are ways you can avoid this type of scam:

  • Stay away from unfamiliar sites offering unrealistic discounts on brand-name merchandise.
  •  If you’re purchasing from a company for the first time, research the business and check reviews other customers have shared.
  • If little to no information about a vendor exists, shop elsewhere.  

Payment Red Flags: 

Officials say scammers will try to get shoppers to conduct wire transfers, which allows them to quickly receive illegal funds. Here are two tips on avoiding this type of scam: 

  •  Be cautious of sellers and websites which demand payment solely through gift cards. 
  • Using a credit card provides layers of security against fraud and is typically the safest way to conduct online shopping throughout the holidays.

Additional steps to avoid holiday fraud schemes:

 ▪ Before shopping online, secure all your financial accounts with strong passwords. The FBI recommends using different passwords for each financial account. 

▪ Check bank and credit card statements regularly, especially after making online purchases and in the weeks following the holiday season.

 ▪ Never give personal information such as your date of birth, Social Security number, or billing addresses to anyone you do not know. 

▪ Be suspicious of promotions and giveaways which request your personal information. 

▪ Prior to donating to any charity, verify that they have a valid Taxpayer Identification number by visiting their website or calling the charity directly.

Shoppers who suspect they have been a victim of fraud should contact their bank as well as their local law enforcement agency or FBI Little Rock at 501-221-9100. Victims are also encouraged to file a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov.

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