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November 23, 11

NEWS / FBI Boston Division Reminds Holiday Shoppers to Beware of Fraudulant Cyber Activity

Tips You Can Use to Avoid Being a Victim

BOSTON, MA—With the holiday season approaching, Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers, of the FBI’s Boston Division, wants to remind New England shoppers to beware of cyber criminals and their aggressive and creative ways to steal money and personally identifiable information from you this season.

Black Friday has traditionally been the “biggest shopping day of the year.” The e-commerce industry designated the Monday following Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday, the day for merchants and manufacturers to offer online sales and promotions without interfering with Friday’s traditional retail shopping.

On Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday season, consumers are encouraged to beware of bargain e-mails advertising one day only promotions for recognized brands or websites. Fraudsters often use the hot items of the season to lure bargain hunters into providing credit card information. The old adage “if it seems too good to be true” is an easy indicator to determine if the e-mails are legitimate.

“Especially during the holiday season, consumers should remain vigilant and proceed with caution when conducting an online transaction. Fraudsters prey on consumers to provide their personally identifiable information through bogus web sites,” said Supervisory Special Agent Kevin Swindon.

Here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:

Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.

Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software and keep up with the security updates to prevent viruses and malicious programs from infecting your computer.

Make purchases using websites with secure connections. Look for websites that use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) security which protects your personal information. Check the browser’s status bar for an unbroken “padlock” icon that indicates the sites’ using SSL.

Use your credit card instead of debit card when making a purchase. Credit cards offer added protection from fraudulent transactions.

Never use your Social Security Number to make online purchases.

Use strong passwords. A strong password should include at least five letters and one number.

For more information on how to safely shop online this holiday season, please go to the Internet Crime Complaint Center website at www.ic3.gov/media/2011/111121.aspx. For more information on e-scams, please visit FBI.gov E-scams and Warnings webpage at http://www.fbi.gov/cyberinvest/escams.htm.




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