BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Black Friday online sales are already starting, but the Brownsville Police Department told ValleyCentral that cybercrime numbers increase around holidays, especially after Thanksgiving.
According to the FBI, cybercrime increased by 400% in 2020 with 791,790 complaints of suspected internet crime. The Brownsville PD reports that they receive about two cybercrime related calls every month.
Websites that are authentic will have an HTTPS in the address and a lock icon in the URL.
Brownsville PD’s public information officer, Martin Sandoval, said that phishing emails are common. He recommends checking the sender’s email address before clicking any links.
“You click on that link and it sends you straight to another link,” added Sandoval. “When it gets connected, that’s when they come in steal all of your personal information.”
Sandoval commented that cybercriminals typically start with small deductions such as $1 to see if it will go through. If it processes, much larger purchases will be made.
If you notice money missing from your account or suspicious activity, the first step is notifying the bank. The bank will then freeze the card.
Instead of providing credit card information, it’s recommended that you use payment apps. Some apps let you pay online by generating a one time authentication code.
Once the bank has been notified, you must file a police report with your local station in-person or online.
The police will try and track down the IP address. Although Sandoval said the Brownsville PD has been very successful in doing so, “99%” of the IP addresses are tracked down to a location outside of the U.S.
If the IP address is out of the country, local police stations do not have jurisdiction to proceed with the case. It will be passed on to the FBI’s cybercrime department.
Brownsville PD releases public service announcements once they are notified of dupe websites in an effort to prevent more residents from purchasing from that particular page.
If you are looking to make a purchase locally through a social media marketplace, Sandoval recommends for your safety that you meet in person at the police station. There are two designated spots for exchange with camera footage.
Sandoval added that the department plans to release an announcement next week with holiday cybercrime prevention tips.