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Sneaky New Shopping Scams
Just as important as knowing how to sniff out great buys is understanding what it takes to avoid rip-offs. And with Internet fraud on the rise, it's getting tougher to outsmart the criminals. Complaints to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a joint operation of the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, jumped 22 percent last year. The complaints include plenty of run-of-the-mill scams, like sellers who steal credit-card numbers or take the money and run. But those are child's play compared with what else is brewing.
Think you're too savvy to get taken? OK, maybe you don't fall for those e-mails from Nigerian royalty asking you to wire money, but digital criminals are getting sneakier every year. One scam that can trip up even the most cautious consumers involves "skimmers" attached to ATMs. Those devices record account numbers and passwords so that thieves can clean out your bank account.
"These guys are constantly thinking of new ways to swindle you, some of which are quite sophisticated," says Brian Krebs, a computer security expert and author of "Krebs on Security" at Krebsonsecurity.com.
Think you're safer shopping at the mall? Official purse-snatching statistics show there's been a downward trend, but many of those crimes aren't reported to law enforcement officials. And pickpocket activity always jumps around holiday time, says Bob Arno, co-author of "Travel Advisory! How to Avoid Thefts, Cons and Street Scams While Traveling" (Bonus Books, 2003). But you can outsmart even the craftiest swindlers if you know what's in their bag of nasty tricks. Here's a guide to the latest, sneakiest scams, and simple tips that can help you protect yourself.