Tens of millions of people have tuned into the 2018 FIFA World Cup matches, but even as the games are nearly halfway through, getting a seat at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium, the largest of the World Cup arenas, is a dream come true for many soccer fans. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what scammers are banking on.
The Federal Trade Commission issued an alert on Monday, warning consumers to watch out for World Cup scams — especially those promising tickets to the upcoming remaining matches.
“Any type of big, international event, whether it's the World Cup, the Olympics or the Super Bowl, you see a variety of different adversaries taking advantage of it," Dmitri Alperovitch, chief technology officer at cybersecurity company CrowdStrike, tells CNBC Make It.
Consumers should be on the lookout for these three types of common scams related to the World Cup.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The old adage is still as useful as ever, especially when it comes to spotting scam emails claiming you’ve won World Cup tickets. The FTC says that while the offer may sound amazing, scammers are likely using these emails as a way to get your personal information.
Your best bet is to ignore any emails claiming you've won free tickets or a vacation to the World Cup. "Simply opening up the message itself can reveal sensitive information about your computer to an attacker without your knowledge," Alperovitch says.
If you do open the email thinking it's from someone you know, be extremely careful about clicking on any links or opening attachments. These often contain viruses or other spyware that the scammers can use to extract your personal information and data.
Ticket scams tend to increase around major events, and the World Cup is no exception. FIFA.com is the official source for World Cup tickets, so you're taking a risk if you choose to buy through another vendor. Thousands of people in China already fell victim to a ticket scam through a Moscow-based company called Anzhi, according to The New York Times.
"A big red flag is any time a person selling you something pressures you to proceed with a transaction or refuses to use a third-party vendor, like a ticket broker, that offers consumer protection," Keith Jarvis, a senior security researcher with information security company Secureworks, tells CNBC Make It.
Also, be suspicious of any ticket price that is substantially higher or lower than the going rate, Jarvis adds.
If you do purchase tickets through a re-seller, the FTC recommends paying with a credit card, rather than a debit card or cash. Using a credit card allows you to dispute the transaction before the money leaves your bank account if the tickets never show up or prove to be fake. Additionally, credit cards usually favor consumers in these types of conflicts, Jarvis says.
If you do suspect you've been defrauded, call your bank immediately and attempt to stop any payments before they are finalized.
Make sure you’re not giving away your personal information or supporting illegal activity in the process of buying that jersey or souvenir.
"Always be on the lookout for anyone peddling information or souvenirs or deals to you in an email that's not a reputable source," Alperovitch says. If the email comes from a reputable source, don't click on the link, go directly to the website to check out the offer.
Scammers create fake stores to sell unauthorized merchandise on the cheap, the FTC says. While you may not immediately recognize the difference between the official merchandise and the knockoffs, it’s always a good idea to read reviews and check out the seller's reputation through the Better Business Bureau. Or simply Google the seller's name to see if they have any outstanding complaints.
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