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FBI Online Shopping Scams

‘Tis the Season to Avoid Online Shopping Scams

In 2021, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported that Americans lost $337 million to non-payment and non-delivery scams. In these scams, buyers pay for products or services online, but never receive them. Conversely, sellers ship goods or provide services, but never receive payment.

Online Shopping Scams Header

Warning Signs

Recognize Warning Signs

  • Products and services advertised at incredibly low prices—significantly lower than competitors.
  • Sellers that only accept payments by wire transfer, money orders, gift cards, or peer-to-peer payment services like CashApp, Venmo and Zelle.
  • Vague or non-existent contact details or information about returns, exchanges or privacy policies.
  • Websites with poor spelling or grammar.
Warning Signs

Practice Good Cyber Habits

  • Be wary about clicking links, especially unsolicited ones you receive via text, social media, or email.
  • If you receive a message about updating your account information or password, do not assume it is safe. Contact the company directly on a verified number, rather than in the message received, to confirm.
  • Only enter your payment information on sites with a URL that includes “https,” as those sites are more secure.
  • Avoid using the same password for every account.
Warning Signs

Do Business with Companies You Trust

  • Do your research, check reviews or ratings and search for complaints on a company before buying.
  • Verify contact information on sites to ensure they are legitimate.
  • Be wary of sellers who claim to be U.S. residents, but say they are currently out of the country.
  • Avoid buyers who request purchases be shipped using certain methods to avoid customs or taxes.
  • Monitor the shipping process and obtain tracking numbers.
Warning Signs

Your Payment Method Matters

  • Never wire money directly to a seller, because it is unlikely you will receive a refund is there is a dispute.
  • Only use peer-to-peer payments services with people you know, trust, and have met in-person.
  • Be wary of sellers who only accept gift cards or pre-paid debit cards. They may never send what you ordered, and you may be unable to be refunded.

If You Have Been Scammed

  • Contact your financial institution to report that you have been scammed.
  • Contact local law enforcement.
  • Report the scam to IC3 at www.ic3.gov