In 2018, 1.4 million Floridians lost more than $84 million in fraudulent activity. 

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Florida is ranked among the highest in the nation when it comes to reported cases of fraud. Experts are speaking up about scams which have led to chargebacks, ultimately hurting some Tampa Bay businesses.

“When the pandemic hit and people were given stay-at-home orders, you couldn’t do things like you normally did,” said Don Bush, Vice President of Sales/Marketing at Chargebacks911. “It drove people from going down to their local market, or their local store online to make purchases. And with millions and millions and millions of new people coming online and ordering things, chargebacks went up.”

Amid a pandemic, online scamming is practically inevitable. More scammers are home with more time on their hands. “Scammers love pandemics and crisis and chaos and they will take advantage of that, so their presence went up,” said Bush.  In 2018, 1.4 million Floridians lost more than $84 million in fraudulent activity. “Scammers will get online and they’ll say ‘hey, would you like to donate to this cause to help people with the pandemic.’. ‘Hey we’ve had to close your credit card account because we don’t have this information so, click here,” said Bush.

When cardholders fall victim to fraud, businesses get chargebacks as a result. A chargeback happens when your online order is delivered incorrectly, or not at all, and you were still charged after disputing it. That’s when your bank intervenes. “And they will go to the merchant and say, ‘you didn’t perform as you’re supposed to so we’re going to take that money out of your account and give it back to the consumer,” said Bush.

According to experts at Chargebacks 911, the number of these chargebacks is only climbing, and so are the sales. Experts calculated a 23% increase in overall chargeback issuances within weeks of the quarantine. “We saw a huge rise in chargebacks initially, it’s still above normal, we haven’t seen it drop back down yet,” said Bush. “We’ve already seen, gosh, about a 40% across-the-board growth in e-commerce, which it usually is about 16% to 18% year over year. And then, going into the fourth quarter is when you’ve got all the retailers see higher levels of transactions.”

Some tips to avoid being targeted by scammers: donate directly to the source, such as The Red Cross or directly to your church. Emails are a large source of scams as well. You can check the sender name or web address to make sure it’s a legitimate, like RedCross.org and not a series of numbers and letters afterward. If you have any doubt whatsoever, the most reliable way to complete purchases or donations is to visit the website directly instead of clicking links within emails. For more information and tips, visit Chargebacks911.com.

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