Local officials warn consumers about online shopping scams

Wilton Vinck

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – Online shopping is a good way to find discounts and deals, but you can also fall victim to a scam if you aren’t careful.

Summer sales are a popular way for online retailers to attract customers and promote seasonal items, but Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is warning that scammers are taking advantage of shoppers as well.

“Scammers know this and may exploit these shopping events by posing as representatives of major retailers to steal money or personal information from unsuspecting consumers,” said Moody in a news release.

With Amazon Prime Day happening on July 12-13, people will be looking for deals and discounts, but officials from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office said they’re also dealing with victims of online theft.

“One of the top things we end up dealing with in our financial crimes division is online financial crimes, scams,” BCSO Investigator Corporal Aubrey Chance said.

Chance said online theft comes in various forms. They include scam texts, emails, and fake websites. Although, verifying the website URL, email, and not clicking on links through text messages can help you avoid being a victim.

Sometimes scammers will email you stating they’re from a website such as Amazon. The email will say things like “we need to refund your purchase” and it will ask you to click on the link that directs you to the site. Chance said in this case, go directly to the website on your own and do not click any links.

Below are four tactics from Attorney General Moody’s office to target scammers.

Copycat websites that look dangerously similar to, or even exactly like, the legitimate store’s website. Pay close attention to the website URL.

Fake security alert emails claiming a target’s online account is compromised—often asking for users to verify billing names, addresses and telephone numbers. These messages can be linked to malware or may be used to steal information. Verify the message’s legitimacy by calling the company and asking about the email.

Falsified order confirmations and package delivery updates use the same fake email concept of the security-alert scam, except they target different steps in the ordering process—making the entire scam seem more realistic.

Spoofed phone calls can be made to look like they originate from a legitimate company’s number. These phone calls may offer raffles, warn about security issues, ask the receiver to take a survey or use other tactics. Most companies will not call and attempt to convince a customer to pay for anything over the phone, ask for a customer’s personal information or offer an unexpected refund. Hang up immediately if this is the case.

Copyright 2022 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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