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9 tips for avoiding scams while shopping this holiday season

The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center is helping shoppers avoid falling victim to scams this holiday season.

COLORADO, USA — With the holiday season in full swing, many will resort to online shopping with the hopes of finding the best deals. In some cases, if the deal is too good to be true, you should think twice before purchasing anything. 

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), thousands of people annually fall victim to holiday scams. 

Being robbed of your hard-earned money, personal information — and much worse, your festive mood — can put a dent on your holiday season, the agency said. 

The two most popular scams that impact consumers are non-delivery and non-payment crimes, according to the FBI. 

With non-delivery scams, shoppers pay for goods and services they find online but then never receive such purchases. 

Non-payment scams are the opposite, where goods or services are shipped but the seller never receives a payment. 

According to the IC3, non-delivery and non-payment scams together have impacted 65,000 victims and causing close to $184 million in losses for 2018 alone. 

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The IC3 said a significant amount of complaints are reported in the early months of the year, which they believe is consistent with past holiday season's shopping scams.

Here are some tips that are recommended by the IC3 to avoid falling victims to scams during the holiday season and throughout the year: 

  • Always have a tracking number for items purchased to verify it has been shipped and you can follow during its delivery process.
  • Watch out for sellers who claim they reside in the U.S. and then respond to questions by saying they are out of the country on business, family emergency, or similar reasons.
  • Avoid sellers who post auctions and ads with one name and ask for payments to be sent to someone else.
  • Consider canceling purchases if a seller asks for funds to be wired directly to them via a money transfer company, pre-paid card, or bank-to-bank wire transfer. Sending money this way can make it difficult to recover. 
  • Avoid sellers who pose as authorized dealers or factory representatives of popular items in locations where no such dealers exist.
  • Confirm a buyer or seller's authenticity before making a purchase.
  • Avoid buyers who ask for their purchases to be shipped and try to avoid using customs or taxes inside of another country.
  • Always be suspicious of any credit card purchases where the cardholder's address doesn't match the shipping address.
  • Always be careful of any deals that may seem too good to be true.

RELATED: How to report a scam: Learn what resources are available

The FBI asks if you think you have become a holiday scam victim, contact your bank as soon as possible.

Shoppers should also reach out to their local law enforcement agency and file a complaint with the IC3

RELATED: 9 things easily susceptible to scams (and how to avoid being a victim)

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