LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The holiday season is in full swing across Arkansas and as you might be buying gifts or feeling the season of giving, the FBI is warning to be mindful of criminals looking to take advantage of you.

According to the bureau, criminals will make aggressive and deceptive scams to steal money and personal information with $6.9 billion being lost to fraudsters in 2021, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The FBI is offering additional information on the various types of schemes.

Online shopping scams: If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is! The FBI says to stay clear of unfamiliar sites offering unrealistic discounts on brand-name merchandise. Scammers frequently prey on bargain hunters by advertising “One-Day Only” promotions for recognizable brands. Without employing a skeptical eye, consumers may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information, and receiving nothing in return except a compromised identity.

Fraudulent social media posts: The FBI says consumers should beware of posts on social media sites that appear to offer special deals, vouchers, or gift cards. Some may appear as holiday promotions or contests. Others may be sent by friends who shared a link on popular social media sites. These scams frequently lead consumers to participate in online surveys designed to steal personal information. Before you click on a social media advertisement, do your due diligence and check the legitimacy of the website before providing any personal or credit card information.

Charity scams: Charity-related frauds increase during the holidays as individuals look to donate money to those less fortunate. Criminals use phone calls, email campaigns, and fake websites to solicit on behalf of fraudulent charities. Scammers target people who want to donate to charity, then hoard well-intentioned donations while those most in need never see a dime.

Below are some steps you can take to avoid holiday fraud schemes:

  • Before shopping online, secure all your financial accounts with strong passphrases. Additionally, use different passphrases for each financial account.
  • Routinely check bank and credit card statements, especially after making online purchases and in the weeks following the holiday season.
  • Never give personal information— such as your date of birth, Social Security number, or home
    address— to anyone you do not know.
  • Be highly suspicious of promotions and giveaways which require your personal information.
  • Prior to donating to any charity, verify they have a valid Taxpayer Identification number by visiting their website or calling the charity directly.

The FBI says shoppers who suspect they’ve been victimized should immediately contact their financial institution, then call their local law enforcement agency or FBI Little Rock at (501) 221-9100. Victims of holiday scams are also encouraged to file a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov.