As we enter the 2022 holiday season, it is crucial for Arkansas residents to remain vigilant against the increasing number of holiday scams. Criminals are looking to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers who are seeking good deals and discounts. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), Americans lost over $6.9 billion to fraudsters in 2021 alone, with more than $335 million lost in online shopping and non-delivery scams. These scams can include online shopping scams, fraudulent social media posts, and charity scams. In order to safeguard against these schemes, it is important to be wary of unrealistic discounts, verify the legitimacy of websites, and exercise caution when providing personal information. Anyone who suspects they have fallen victim to a holiday scam should contact their financial institution and local law enforcement immediately. Additionally, it is encouraged to file a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov. By staying informed and cautious, Arkansas shoppers can enjoy a scam-free holiday season.
Online Shopping Scams
In today’s digital age, online shopping has become increasingly popular and convenient. However, with this convenience comes the risk of falling victim to online shopping scams. Criminals have devised various tactics to trick unsuspecting consumers into giving away their money and personal information. It is crucial for shoppers to be aware of these scams and take necessary precautions to protect themselves.
Phishing emails are one of the most common methods used by scammers to deceive consumers. These emails often appear to be from reputable retailers and contain enticing offers or discounts. They typically ask recipients to click on a link or provide personal and financial information. However, these emails are designed to trick individuals into revealing sensitive details, which can be used for identity theft or financial fraud. To avoid falling for phishing emails, it is important to be cautious and verify the source before clicking on any links or providing personal information.
Text message scams
Text message scams, also known as smishing, involve scammers sending fraudulent text messages to potential victims. These messages may claim that the recipient has won a prize or offer a too-good-to-be-true deal. They often include a link or a phone number to call, both of which lead to the scammer’s trap. Similar to phishing emails, these text messages are aimed at obtaining personal and financial information. To protect yourself from text message scams, never click on unknown links and avoid providing sensitive information to unknown senders.
Fake advertisements on social media
Social media platforms have become a breeding ground for scammers. They create enticing advertisements that appear legitimate and offer attractive deals or discounts. These ads are designed to lure users into clicking on them or making purchases from fake websites. As a result, consumers may end up providing their credit card information to scammers, leading to financial loss or identity theft. To avoid falling for these scams, it is essential to research the legitimacy of the advertised website before making any purchases.
With the increasing popularity of online ticket sales, scammers have found new opportunities to exploit unsuspecting buyers. They create fake websites or post listings on online marketplaces offering tickets to concerts, sporting events, or other entertainment. However, once the tickets are purchased, they either turn out to be counterfeit or never arrive. To prevent becoming a victim of bogus ticket scams, it is crucial to buy tickets only from reputable sources and verify the legitimacy of the seller.
Malware downloads, also known as drive-by downloads, are a particularly sneaky form of online shopping scams. Scammers embed malicious software in seemingly harmless downloads or links, which can infect your device once clicked. This malware can be used to collect personal information, such as login credentials or credit card details, without your knowledge. To protect yourself from malware downloads, it is important to only download files from trusted sources and keep your devices updated with the latest security patches.
Fraudulent Social Media Posts
Social media platforms have become a popular avenue for scammers to target unsuspecting users. They create deceptive posts and advertisements to trick individuals into falling for their schemes. It is crucial to be vigilant and exercise caution when encountering social media posts that seem too good to be true.
Special deal offers
Fraudulent social media posts often entice users with special deal offers that are too good to pass up. These offers may include heavily discounted products, free giveaways, or limited-time promotions. However, these deals are often a ploy to collect personal information or lure users into making purchases from fake websites. To protect yourself, always research the legitimacy of the offer and the seller before providing any personal information or making a purchase.
Vouchers and gift cards
Another common tactic used by scammers is the promotion of fake vouchers and gift cards on social media. These posts claim to offer significant discounts or freebies in exchange for participating in surveys or sharing personal information. However, these vouchers and gift cards are often fake or non-existent, leaving users empty-handed and susceptible to identity theft. To avoid falling for this scam, be skeptical of offers that require providing personal information and verify the legitimacy of the promotion before participating.
Holiday promotions and contests
During the holiday season, scammers take advantage of people’s generosity and desire to win prizes. They create social media posts advertising holiday promotions or contests that promise extravagant rewards. However, these promotions and contests are often a ruse to collect personal information or trick individuals into making purchases from fake websites. To protect yourself, approach these holiday promotions and contests with caution. Research the legitimacy of the offer and avoid providing personal or financial information unless you are confident in the authenticity of the promotion.
Online surveys for personal information
Scammers often use surveys as a way to collect personal information from unsuspecting users. They may claim that completing the survey will grant access to exclusive deals or rewards. However, the purpose of these surveys is to gather sensitive information that can be used for identity theft or other fraudulent activities. To avoid falling for this scam, refrain from participating in online surveys that require personal information unless you are certain of the legitimacy of the survey.
Checking website legitimacy
Before interacting with any social media post or advertisement, it is essential to check the legitimacy of the website associated with it. Scammers often create fake websites that mimic the appearance of legitimate retailers or service providers. These websites are designed to trick users into sharing their personal and financial information. To verify the legitimacy of a website, look for secure browsing indicators such as HTTPS in the URL and ensure that the website has contact information and customer reviews.
The holiday season is a time of giving and generosity. Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of this goodwill by targeting individuals looking to donate to charitable causes. It is important to be cautious when donating to charities and ensure that your contribution goes to legitimate organizations.
Increased fraud during the holidays
Charity-related fraud tends to increase during the holiday season when people are more inclined to donate. Scammers exploit this generosity by creating fake charities or impersonating existing ones. They use various tactics, such as phone calls, email campaigns, and fake websites, to solicit donations from unsuspecting individuals. To protect yourself from holiday charity scams, thoroughly research the legitimacy of the charity before making any donations.
Phone calls and email campaigns
Scammers often contact potential victims directly through phone calls or email campaigns, posing as representatives of charitable organizations. They may use persuasive tactics to convince individuals to donate money or provide personal and financial information. It is important to exercise caution when receiving such calls or emails and verify the legitimacy of the charitable organization before making any commitments.
Fake websites are a common tool used by scammers to solicit donations. These websites are designed to resemble legitimate charitable organizations, often using similar names and logos. However, any donations made through these websites end up in the hands of criminals rather than benefiting those in need. To avoid falling for fake charity websites, verify the legitimacy of the organization by checking their official website and contacting them directly.
Scammers are skilled at stealing donations meant for legitimate charities. Once they have convinced individuals to donate, they pocket the money for themselves rather than using it for its intended purpose. To ensure your donations reach the intended recipients, it is important to research the charity, check their financial transparency, and consider donating directly to the organization rather than through unknown third parties.
Verifying charity legitimacy
Before making any donations, it is crucial to verify the legitimacy of the charity. Look for reputable sources such as the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance or Charity Navigator to ensure that the charity is trustworthy and transparent. Additionally, check if the charity has a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) and consider donating directly to the organization’s official website or through reputable platforms that verify the legitimacy of charitable organizations.
Steps to Avoid Holiday Fraud Schemes
The holiday season is a prime time for scammers to prey on unsuspecting individuals. To protect yourself from falling victim to fraud, it is essential to take proactive steps to secure your financial accounts and be vigilant in identifying potential scams.
Securing financial accounts
Before engaging in any online shopping or financial transactions, it is crucial to secure your financial accounts. Use strong and unique passphrases that are difficult to guess. Avoid using personal information or commonly used passwords. Additionally, enable two-factor authentication whenever possible to add an extra layer of security to your accounts.
Using strong passphrases
Creating strong and unique passphrases is essential to protect your sensitive information. Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using easily guessable phrases or personal information. By using strong passphrases, you can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your accounts.
Checking bank and credit card statements
Regularly reviewing your bank and credit card statements is an important step in identifying any fraudulent activity. During the holiday season, it is especially crucial to closely monitor your statements for any suspicious charges or unfamiliar transactions. If you notice anything unusual, contact your financial institution immediately to report the suspected fraud.
Never giving personal information to strangers
One of the cardinal rules of online safety is to never give personal information to strangers. Scammers often pose as trusted individuals or organizations to trick individuals into revealing sensitive details. Be wary of unsolicited requests for personal or financial information and avoid sharing such information unless you have verified the legitimacy of the request.
Being suspicious of promotions and giveaways
Scammers frequently use promotions and giveaways as bait to collect personal information or trick individuals into making purchases from fake websites. If a promotion or giveaway seems too good to be true, it probably is. Exercise caution and skepticism when encountering such offers, and always research the legitimacy of the promotion before participating.
Verifying charity’s Taxpayer Identification Number
Before donating to a charity, it is important to verify its Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). Legitimate charitable organizations should have a valid TIN, which can be verified through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the charity’s official website. Don’t hesitate to contact the charity directly to confirm their TIN and ensure your donation is going to a legitimate cause.
If you suspect that you have fallen victim to a fraud scheme, it is crucial to report it promptly. Reporting fraud not only helps protect yourself but also assists law enforcement agencies in identifying and stopping scammers.
Contacting financial institution
If you discover any fraudulent activity or unauthorized charges on your bank or credit card statements, contact your financial institution immediately. They can provide guidance on how to handle the situation and may be able to help you recover any lost funds.
Calling local law enforcement
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, it is important to report the incident to your local law enforcement agency. They can investigate the matter and potentially help prevent others from falling victim to the same scam.
Contacting FBI Little Rock
FBI Little Rock serves as another valuable resource for reporting fraud. If you reside in the Little Rock area and believe you have been targeted by a scam, you can contact FBI Little Rock at (501) 221-9100.
Filing a complaint with the FBI
Victims of fraud, regardless of their location, can file a complaint with the FBI through the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov. This platform allows individuals to report scams and provide relevant information to assist law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting criminals.
In addition to protecting the public from fraud, the FBI is also actively involved in various other aspects of law enforcement. From tracking down wanted fugitives to combating terrorism, the agency’s work spans a wide range of areas.
Ten Most Wanted Fugitives
The FBI maintains a list of the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, which features individuals who are sought after for serious crimes. The list acts as a powerful tool for locating and apprehending dangerous fugitives.
As a key agency in fighting terrorism, the FBI works tirelessly to identify, disrupt, and dismantle terrorist networks. Their efforts focus on both domestic and international threats to national security.
Kidnappings / Missing Persons
The FBI plays a crucial role in investigating cases of kidnappings and missing persons. They work closely with local and state law enforcement agencies to locate and reunite missing individuals with their families.
The FBI frequently seeks information from the public to assist in ongoing investigations. They rely on the cooperation and vigilance of community members to help provide leads and valuable tips.
Bank robberies pose a significant threat to public safety and the financial sector. The FBI actively investigates bank robberies and works to bring those responsible to justice.
The FBI’s Endangered Child Alert Program (ECAP) focuses on identifying and locating individuals who sexually exploit children. They work closely with international law enforcement agencies to combat this heinous crime.
The FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) aims to facilitate cooperation and information sharing among law enforcement agencies to identify and apprehend violent criminals.
The FBI offers a range of job opportunities for individuals interested in a career in law enforcement or related fields. Their diverse workforce plays a vital role in protecting the nation and upholding the rule of law.
Submitting a tip
The FBI encourages individuals with information about criminal activity to submit tips. This can be done anonymously through their website or by contacting your local FBI field office.
The FBI collects and publishes crime statistics to provide a comprehensive view of crime trends in the United States. These statistics help inform law enforcement agencies and policymakers in their efforts to combat crime.
The history of the FBI is rich and storied, filled with significant moments and groundbreaking investigations. Exploring the agency’s history can provide valuable insights into its mission and accomplishments.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) grants individuals the right to access certain government records. The FBI has a dedicated system for handling FOIA requests, allowing individuals to obtain information about the agency’s activities.
Scams & Safety
The FBI’s Scams & Safety resources provide valuable information on how to protect yourself from fraud and scams. They offer guidance on recognizing and reporting various types of scams, ensuring that individuals can stay informed about the latest threats.
The FBI Kids website offers interactive resources and educational materials for children. It provides valuable information about staying safe online, as well as insights into the agency’s work and mission.
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How We Can Help You
The FBI is committed to serving and protecting the public. They provide specialized assistance and resources to various groups, including law enforcement agencies, victims, parents and caregivers, students, and businesses.
The FBI collaborates closely with local, state, and international law enforcement agencies to combat crime. They provide support, expertise, and training to help strengthen the overall law enforcement community.
For individuals who have been victimized, the FBI offers a range of services and resources. They help victims navigate the criminal justice system, provide crisis intervention, and connect them with local support services.
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The FBI recognizes the importance of educating parents and caregivers about the potential dangers faced by children. They offer resources and guidance on various topics, including online safety, abduction prevention, and reporting suspicious activities.
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The FBI assists businesses in protecting their assets, sensitive information, and intellectual property. They offer resources on topics such as cybersecurity, intellectual property theft, and counterintelligence.
The FBI provides a wealth of safety resources for individuals and organizations. These resources cover a wide range of topics, including identity theft, cybercrime, terrorism, and personal safety.
What We Investigate
The FBI investigates a multitude of crimes and threats to national security. Their investigative efforts span several key areas, including terrorism, counterintelligence, cybercrime, public corruption, civil rights, organized crime, white-collar crime, violent crime, and weapons of mass destruction.
The FBI is at the forefront of fighting terrorism and works collaboratively with international partners to identify and disrupt terrorist activities. They employ a wide range of tactics and techniques to prevent attacks and hold perpetrators accountable.
As part of their national security mission, the FBI focuses on identifying and countering foreign intelligence threats. They work diligently to protect US interests by detecting and neutralizing espionage activities and ensuring the integrity of critical infrastructure.
The FBI plays a critical role in combating cybercrime, which has become increasingly prevalent in today’s digital world. They investigate a wide range of cyber threats, including hacking, identity theft, financial fraud, and data breaches.
The FBI is dedicated to combating public corruption at all levels of government. They investigate cases involving elected officials, law enforcement officers, and other individuals in positions of public trust who engage in illegal activities.
Protecting civil rights is a core part of the FBI’s mission. They investigate hate crimes, human trafficking, police misconduct, and other violations of individuals’ civil rights to ensure justice for all.
Organized crime groups pose a significant threat to public safety and national security. The FBI targets these criminal enterprises, dismantling their networks and bringing their leaders to justice.
White-collar crime encompasses a range of non-violent offenses committed by individuals or businesses for financial gain. The FBI investigates various forms of white-collar crime, including securities and investment fraud, healthcare fraud, and corporate fraud.
The FBI plays a crucial role in combating violent crime, including homicide, assault, robbery, and kidnapping. They work closely with local and state law enforcement agencies to investigate and apprehend violent offenders.
Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) present a serious threat to US national security. The FBI works to prevent the acquisition and use of WMD by individuals and groups seeking to harm the United States or its interests.
The FBI is committed to ensuring that its resources and services are accessible to all individuals. They provide various mechanisms, such as eRulemaking, Freedom of Information/Privacy Act (FOIA) requests, legal notices, and privacy policies, to facilitate access and meet legal requirements.
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The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act provide individuals with the right to access certain government records. The FBI has established processes for handling FOIA and Privacy Act requests, ensuring transparency and accountability.
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No FEAR Act
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