The holiday shopping season opens up opportunities for scams and the FBI is urging folks to follow a few tips to avoid becoming a victim. If you believe you’re the victim of a scam, contact your local police department as well as your bank or credit union.

The FBI offers the following tips:

  • Secure all financial accounts with strong passwords or passphrases. The FBI recommends using different passwords for each financial account, as well as multifactor authentication, whenever available.
  • Buy directly from secure and reputable websites. Steer clear of unfamiliar sites, especially if they’re offering unrealistic discounts on brand-name merchandise.
  • As usual, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Before making a purchase, verify the legitimacy of buyers or sellers. If you’re using an online marketplace or auction website, check those feedback ratings. Be wary of any buyers and sellers with lots of unfavorable ratings or no ratings at all.
  • Credit cards provide several layers of security against fraud and are typically the safest way to conduct online shopping.
  • Skip sellers and websites that demand payment solely through gift cards — that’s a major red flag for fraud.
  • Also beware of sellers who insist shoppers pay with cryptocurrency or wire transfers, methods allowing them to quickly receive and bank the funds with little recourse for scammed shoppers.
  • Check bank and credit card statements routinely, including after making online purchases and in the weeks following the holidays.
  • Never give personal information like your date of birth or Social Security number to anyone you don’t know.