Beware these Olympics scams (even if you’re not going to Rio)

(Jill Krasny/ — With the 2016 Summer Olympics just around the corner, scammers are getting busy with various schemes to dupe fans.

Here are some of this year’s Olympics scams to watch out for.

Phishing Attacks 

It’s the old-school scam in an unfamiliar package, this time masquerading as an email that appears to be the original marketing advertisement of the event in Rio de Janeiro. As tech blog Hackread reports, scammers are registering domains with terms like “Rio” and “rio2016” and also buying “low-cost SSL certificates” to make their sham websites seem legit.

Besides protecting your password, be sure to only do business with encrypted sites, which will have an “https” at the beginning of their web address (and check out more tips for better internet safety).

Also, it’s best to avoid opening any attachments or clicking on any links in unsolicited emails. They could contain malware that can steal your login credentials for a number of sites, including your bank, and expose you to identity theft or other forms of fraud.

Lottery Scams

Some scammers are sending bogus emails saying recipients won the Olympics lottery. The supposed grand prize: a trip to Brazil to watch the games. They’ll say your email address was chosen out of a possible 10 million at random, or that you had the winning numbers, lucky you! All you’ll need to do to cash in is contact them. Don’t bother — You can’t win a lottery you never entered in the first place.

Counterfeit Merchandise 

Whether you’re headed to South America or not, scammers will still try to capitalize on your desire to show some team spirit. As the Better Business Bureau notes, back in 2014, a search on eBay rendered 5,693 items for “Sochi 2014,” many of which were blatantly fraudulent, such as the “Olympic Torch Sochi 2014” (priced at $4,000).

If you want the real deal, visit the official Olympics site. And remember, using a credit card instead of a debit card to make online purchases offers additional protections. Debit cards are tied directly to your bank account and even if you report the theft immediately, you may have to wait several days to get your money back.

If you have reason to believe you’ve been a victim of fraud — signs of identity theft include a sudden drop in your credit score, mysterious accounts being opened in your name and unfamiliar mailing addresses showing up on your credit reports — it’s a good idea to check your credit. You can view two credit scores, updated each month, for free on

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