Online Shoppers at Risk of Losing over USD 53 Million During 2021 Holiday Season!

The 2021 holiday shopping season is already in full swing across America. Worried about stock shortages, online shoppers are seizing opportunities to buy at the earliest possible. But here comes the trouble in paradise. As more and more Americans turn to the internet for shopping, so do scammers.

According to Adobe, online sales in America are expected to hit USD 207 billion this holiday shopping season between November 1 and December 31, 2021. That’s a 10% jump from 2020, a pandemic year that pushed more consumers to shop online.

Online scammers are likely to take advantage of the volume and of unwary consumers. They lurk on special offer ads and hard-to-find gift items to lure the shoppers.

Amid the growing prevalence of online shopping scams, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently issued a public statement warning people to be wary of cybercriminals.

According to the FBI, online shoppers lost over USD 53 million due to scams during the 2020 holiday shopping season. The Bureau received more than 17,000 complaints regarding the non-delivery of goods despite payments.

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The FBI warns that “these numbers could increase during the 2021 holiday season due to rumors of merchandise shortages and the ongoing pandemic.”

Online Shoppers

Here are some of the ways the criminals entice online shoppers, as mentioned by the FBI:

  • Advertising mails pertaining to hard-to-find items, such as event tickets or gaming systems
  • Untrusted websites and ads promoting irresistible prices and too-good-to-be-true deals
  • Social media posts offering unrealistic vouchers, gift cards, freebies, and contests
  • Online surveys asking for details in the pretext of stealing personal information

Apart from losing money on fake purchases, unwitting consumers may end up giving away personal information and debit or credit card details.

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“The holidays are also a popular time for pet purchases. Criminals will use legitimate website photos to promise the non-existent pet to multiple buyers. Red flags include added shipping fees, taxes, and or vaccination costs,” warned the Bureau.

“If purchasing a pet online, consider meeting the animal and owner via video chat before buying to reduce the chances of being scammed.”

The leading law enforcement agency also listed some tips online shoppers must consider to protect themselves from holiday seasons scams. Here’s the list:

Tips for Safe Online Holiday Shopping

  • Ensure the website is legitimate and secure before making a purchase. Web addresses should start with HTTPS:// and include a locked padlock icon
  • Beware of retailer emails that come from a free email service instead of a company email address.
  • Use credit cards for online purchases, check card statements regularly, and never save payment info in online accounts.
  • Avoid retailers who accept only wire transfers, digital currency, gift cards, or cash, as these are difficult to recover.
  • Never use public Wi-Fi to make online purchases.
  • Beware of retailers requesting payment to another brand name or to another country.
  • Purchase gift cards only from a trusted seller
  • Never click on links or download attachments in a spam email
  • Ensure that anti-virus software is updated and blocks pop-up windows
  • Use strong passwords. Never use the same password for multiple accounts
  • If the offer sounds too good to be true, it is more likely a scam

Moreover, the FBI has recommended some actions to be taken if in case one falls victim to an online scam

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If you are a victim of an online shopping scam:

  • Without any ado, report to the FBI IC3 at
  • Report the incident to the online payment service used for the purchase
  • Report it to your financial institution to decline the transactions. Ask your bank to contact the corresponding bank to which the payment was made.

Happy Holiday Shopping!

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