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Idaho State News

U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and State and Local Law Enforcement Officials Announce ‘Don’t Click December’ Consumer Protection Campaign

Image courtesy of the U.S. Attorney's Office

BOISE – During the holiday season, online criminals increasingly target Idahoans through online scams and fraud schemes.  On Friday, U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit, along with the FBI, the Idaho State Police, the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office, the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, the Boise Police Department, the Meridian Police Department, and the Garden City Police Department, announced their joint “Don’t Click December” Consumer Protection Campaign.  The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, AARP Idaho, and the Better Business Bureau also participated in the announcement.

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The campaign advises members of the public to exercise skepticism and caution when receiving unsolicited online, email, pop-up, or text communications from unknown or unverified sources.  If there is any doubt about a link, message, or attachment, law enforcement cautions: “don’t click it.”

As part of the campaign, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and their partners will release a public service announcement each week in December leading up to Christmas.  In the first PSA, available here, Ada County Prosecuting Attorney Jan Bennetts, Idaho State Police Director Colonel Kedrick Wills, and U.S. Attorney Hurwit introduce “Don’t Click December” and explain some of the ways in which individuals can be targeted.

Three additional PSAs will alert the public to common online fraud schemes that Idaho law enforcement has seen affect Idahoans.  These schemes are:

  • “Package can’t be delivered” scam:  This scam targets individuals through text messages or emails, claiming a package cannot be delivered unless they click the provided link and enter personal information or pay a redelivery fee.  Often the scammer wants you to click a link to steal your money and information.  Don’t click it.  Instead, contact the delivery service or seller directly using a verified number or website.
  • “Account subscription” scam:  In this scam, you could receive an email or text message indicating a subscription has been renewed for another year.  The message encourages you to click a link to verify or to receive a receipt for the subscription.  The criminals on the other end could be posing as a subscription service you participate in or as one you do not actively have.  If you receive an unsolicited message asking you to click a subscription link, don’t click it.  Report as spam and delete any messages about auto-renewals claiming to be from a company where you don’t have a subscription.  If the message appears to be from a subscription you actually have, check the email address to verify it is from the service you signed up for.
  • “Phantom hacker” scam:  In this scam, criminals send unsolicited messages by phone, email, text, or pop-up pretending to be “tech support” and asking you to provide access to your computer so software can be updated to “thwart hackers.”  But those reaching out are actually the hackers, and once they gain access to your computer, they can install software to steal your financial information.  Sometimes the scammers even pretend to be the government or law enforcement and send messages that your money is still unsafe and needs to be moved to a new “alias” account.  If you get such a request, don’t click it.  Government entities and legitimate businesses won’t send unsolicited messages to ask for access to your computer.

Unfortunately, these are not the only schemes affecting the public, and new schemes arise all the time.  Law enforcement hopes that the “Don’t Click December” Consumer Protection Campaign will raise public awareness and encourage individuals to talk to their friends and relatives about not clicking suspicious links, texts, messages, pop-ups, or attachments.

“We have witnessed many Idahoans lose their hard-earned money or their entire retirement savings to online scams.  And, sadly, this type of crime tends to spike during the holiday season,” said U.S. Attorney Hurwit.  “But, together, we can reduce the risks by talking with each other about how to avoid such scams, and I’m grateful to our law enforcement partners and the AARP for joining us in the Don’t Click December campaign.  We also encourage Idahoans to report any scams as soon as possible so that law enforcement can investigate and we can bring these vicious online criminals to justice.”

“Last year, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 800,944 complaints about suspected internet crimes.  That’s more than 2,000 complaints every single day,” said David Bodily, Supervisory Special Agent of the Salt Lake City FBI’s Boise Resident Agency.  “As cyber scams continue to increase in scope and sophistication, it’s important that law enforcement and the public work together to stay ahead of the risks.”

“Online vigilance is crucial in this era of digital interconnectedness,” said Idaho State Police Colonel Kedrick Wills.  “Recognizing our shared vulnerability, let’s come together to combat online scams and cultivate a cyber threat-free environment. In this endeavor, awareness is our greatest ally.”

“We can all play a part in preventing scammers from targeting their next victim in our communities,” said Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts.  “If you do find yourself the victim of a scam, contact local law enforcement.  My office works closely with our law enforcement partners to hold offenders accountable for victimizing people through scams.”

“Scammers use secrecy, urgency, and fear to manipulate victims.  If at any time you are being pressured, told to keep transactions secret, or even lie to loved ones and authorities to complete a transaction, it’s very likely a scam.  We encourage all scam victims to know they are not alone, and they should call police for help,” said Boise Police Detective Brad Thorne.

“Sophisticated criminal organizations know how to separate consumers from their hard-earned money and they are relentless in their pursuit,” said AARP Idaho state director Lupe Wissel. “Older Idahoans are a prime target for scammers because they have accumulated resources over their lifetime.  This new initiative will give Idahoans the tips and resources they need to help protect their assets.”

“At BBB, we’ve found a simple truth: Investing just a few minutes in choosing a trustworthy business isn’t just wise, it’s a powerful shield against today’s cunning scams. ‘Don’t Click December’ isn’t just a campaign; it’s a wake-up call.  By being selective and informed, consumers can turn the tables on fraudsters.  Remember, a few minutes of smart research today can save you from the headache of a scam tomorrow,” said Dale Dixon, Chief Innovation Officer, Better Business Bureau Great West+Pacific.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and its law enforcement partners recognize that we all must work to eliminate the stigma individuals may experience if they are victimized.  There is no shame to falling victim to an online scheme, which are often designed by professional criminals, sophisticated, and tested repeatedly across the country.

For this reason, the “Don’t Click December” Consumer Protection Campaign also publicizes ways to report scams and incidents of fraud to the FBI and local law enforcement.

To learn more about these and other scams targeting Americans visit FBI.gov, and if you believe you are the victim of a scam, take-action by reporting it to FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov or by contacting your local law enforcement agency.

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