RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — This holiday season, FBI Richmond is warning local residents of online consumer scams.

According to the bureau, scammers often become more creative and bold during the holiday season as victims are often looking for the best Black Friday deals.

The bureau has released the following list of actions residents can take to protect themselves from these scams:

  • Avoid clicking on emails and texts from unknown senders.
  • Make sure to verify the legitimacy of any website before providing personal and financial information.
  • Check the Better Business Bureau’s website to inquire about a business that seems suspicious.
  • Avoid clicking on unfamiliar websites or ads that offer items at unrealistic discounted prices. “If a deal from an unknown seller seems too good to be true, it more than likely is,” according to FBI Richmond.
  • Be wary of online retailers who use a free email service instead of a company email address.
  • Beware of purchases or services that require payment in the form of gift cards, cryptocurrency or wire transfers.
  • Make sure financial accounts are secured with strong passwords.
  • Regularly and thoroughly check credit card statements and, if possible, consider setting up credit card transaction alerts.
  • Never make online purchases using public Wi-Fi.
  • Always get a tracking number for online orders and track items through confirmation emails.
  • Only purchase gift cards from a trusted merchant and do so directly.
  • Ensure that anti-virus software is up to date on your computer and block pop-up windows.

The two most common holiday shopping scams are non-delivery and non-payment crimes. According to the FBI’s 2021 Internet Crime Report, the Internet Crime Complaint Center received over 108,000 non-delivery and non-payment complaints last year, totaling over $337 million in losses to victims.

Anyone who finds themselves victimized by an online scam is encouraged to contact their financial institution to halt transactions and attain more information. Crimes can also be reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center online here.