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Security Gets Top Billing On Cyber Monday

FBI, others offer tips to protect shoppers during online shopping season
The FBI is among the many security experts, vendors, and service providers offering online shopping tips as the official "online holiday season" begins today.

The first Monday after Thanksgiving has been called "Cyber Monday" and is traditionally the beginning of the online holiday shopping season, following "Black Friday" in stores and shopping malls.

The FBI is reminding people that cybercriminals continue to aggressively create new ways to steal money and personal information. "Scammers use many techniques to fool potential victims, including fraudulent auction sales, reshipping merchandise purchased with a stolen credit card, and sale of fraudulent or stolen gift cards through auction sites at a discounted price," the agency says.

Internet criminals sometimes post classified ads or auctions for products they do not have, the FBI says. "If you receive an auction product from a merchant or retail store, rather than directly from the auction seller, the item may have been purchased with someone else's stolen credit card number," it warns.

Unfamiliar Websites or individuals selling reduced or free shipping to customers through auction sites many times are deemed to be fraudulent, the FBI advises. "In many instances, these Web sites or sellers provide shipping labels to their customers as a service. However, the delivery service providers are ultimately not being paid to deliver the package."

Consumers should also be careful about purchasing gift cards from auction sites or through classified ads, the FBI says. "If you need a gift card, it is safest to purchase it directly from the merchant or another authorized retail store. If the gift card merchant discovers the card you received from another source or auction was initially obtained fraudulently, the merchant will deactivate the gift card number and it will not be honored for purchases."

Users should be leery of email or text messages indicating a problem or question regarding their financial accounts, the FBI warns. "In this scam, you are directed to follow a link or call the number provided in the message to update your account or correct the problem. The link actually directs the individuals to a fraudulent Web site or message that appears legitimate where any personal information you provide, such as account number and PIN, will be stolen."

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