Florida officials wary of scammers when shopping online


BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) — Shopping online is a great way to find discounts and deals, but you can also be scammed if you’re not careful.

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

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

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

“One of the main things that 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 a variety of forms. They include scam texts, emails and fake websites. However, checking the website URL, email, and not clicking on links through text messages can help you avoid being a victim.

Sometimes scammers will send you an email stating that they are 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 straight to the website by yourself and don’t click on any links.

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

Copy websites that look dangerously, if not exactly, like the legitimate store’s website. Pay special attention to the website URL.

Fake security alert emails claim a target’s online account is compromised – often asking users to verify names, addresses and billing phone numbers. These messages may be related to malware or may be used to steal information. Check the legitimacy of the message by calling the company and asking questions on the email.

Falsified order confirmations and package delivery updates use the same fake email concept as the security alert scam, except they target different stages of the ordering process, which makes the whole scam more realistic.

Fraudulent phone calls may appear to come from a legitimate business number. These phone calls may offer sweepstakes, warn of security issues, ask the recipient to complete a survey, or use other tactics. Most businesses won’t call trying to convince a customer to pay anything over the phone, ask for a customer’s personal information, or offer an unexpected refund. Hang up immediately if this is the case.

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