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Friday, December 6, 2013 - 12:39am
El Paso, TX (KDBC) — The holiday season is upon us, and the FBI is warning online shoppers of internet scams that could cost you thousands of dollars.
FBI officials say cyber crime has spiked across the country and in El Paso over the past few years. In 2012, the agency reported 250 complaints and so far in 2013, officials say they've received almost 300.
"People are getting scammed every day. The community is losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year out of their personal accounts and that takes away from our local economy, of course," said Special Agent Matthew Ramey for the El Paso branch of the FBI.
The FBI says there are five types of common cyber crimes to watch out for when surfing the web.
The first is fake job postings.
Job postings on websites like Craigslist can be legitimate, but you need to do your homework first so you're not giving out personal information like social security numbers and birthdays.
Scammers also send emails to the public claiming to be a high-ranking FBI official and asking for money. But, the FBI says real agents never solicit money from the public.
Thirdly, scammers may try and solicit money by posing as an online romantic partner.
Also, officials urge you to be careful when clicking on strange links or opening unknown attachments because scammers use them to download software on your computer and gain access to your personal information.
Finally, businesses are encouraged to be careful when sharing corporate bank account information online.
"Whether you're an individual, citizen, or a business, please always remain vigilant when communicating online. Perpetrators can pretend to be anyone they want to be online. Be aware of which files or links you click on, ensure your passwords are updating frequently, and that the same password isn't utilized across all your accounts and ensure you are running up to date anti-virus programs," said Agent Ramey.
Agent Ramey also says victims of cyber crime will most likely never get their money back so it's best to take precautions, and be safe than sorry.
If you are a victim of cyber crime, the FBI encourages you to file a complaint immediately with their Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov