Online Phishing Scams Target Holiday Shoppers

If you are doing your holiday shopping online through popular websites such as Amazon, eBay or Etsy and are expecting shipments from UPS, FedEx or the U.S. Postal Service, listen up. Fraudsters are once again sending convincing and credible looking emails to holiday shoppers in a “phishing” scheme designed to get the attention and personal identifying information from consumers who mistakenly fall for these authentic looking emails.

Some examples of bogus emails a cyber-thief may use to steal your holiday cheer start with subject lines aimed at grabbing your attention, such as: “Your recent order cannot be processed due to problems with your method of payment,” or “You have a package ready to be delivered, please download the attachment to confirm your delivery address.” In the body of the email, you will likely find instructions to click on a link or open an attachment with directions to enter your personal and financial information.

To keep from becoming a victim of this clever scheme, the Lee County Sheriff's Office recommends following these safety tips:

  1. Never click on an embedded link or attachment located in an email. Instead, enter the company’s official website address in your browser, sign in to your account and check “your orders” to determine if the email you received matches your order information. If you do not have an online account or do not know how to create one, call the number located on the website, not the number in the email.
  2. UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service do not request payments, personal or financial information, account numbers, or passwords in an unsolicited manner through email, mail or phone. 
  3. Analyze the salutation. Is the email addressed to a vague “valued customer, ma’am or sir?” If so, watch out. Most legitimate businesses will use a personal salutation with your first and last name.
  4. Be on the lookout for unofficial “From” addresses. Fraudsters often use email addresses that are similar to, but not the same as, a company’s official email address. For instance, if you receive an official email from Amazon, it will always come from @amazon.com. 

You can report a phishing email by forwarding to spam@uce.gov, visiting www.FTC.gov/complaint, or contacting the Sheriff’s Office Fraud Line at 258-3292.