How to steer clear of online shopping scams

It's Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year. This year, consumers will spend $2 billion online in one day, making it the most lucrative digital shopping day in history.

But online consumers need to be cautious on Monday, and throughout the holiday shopping season.

Online retailers not only depend on holiday shopping for their bottom line. But online scammers also stand to make a ton of money Monday and throughout the holiday shopping season if consumers are not careful.

They are hoping to take advantage of your quest for great deals by tricking you into giving up personal information like credit card numbers and bank account numbers.

NewsCenter 16’s Terry McFadden talked to renowned McAffee online security expert Robert Siciliano, about the online grinches looking to spoil your holiday cheer.

Seventy percent of Americans will shop online during the holidays.

And nearly half those planning to shop online this holiday season also plan to shop on cyber Monday.

Before you go online with your shopping list, be aware of the potential dangers out there in cyber shopping land.

“Bad guys have been ramping up all year for this time of the year and they are creating phony e-tailer websites,” said Siciliano. “They are actually creating websites that look and feel just like the regular websites like you'd visit like an amazon or a best buy but are, in fact, fake designed to lull you into entering your personal information and steal your identity.”

Unsuspecting on-line shoppers will either stumble across these phony sites while searching for a legitimate site, or, “another thing they do is they send you a phishing email. Phishing emails are emails that look like they're coming from legitimate organizations you do business with but are, in fact, fake,” said Siciliano.

And with more people using their smart phones to shop, be careful about something that sounds like "phishing".

“You might receive a text message called a "smish". A smish is designed to get you to click links that bring you to fake web sites as well,” said Siciliano.

Unfortunately Siciliano says, in this day and age, it's often hard to distinguish between the fake websites and legitimate ones.

His advice:

“Whenever you get emails that look like they're coming from a legitimate e-tailer, don't click the links in the email. Manually type in the name of the website you want to visit like a Best Buy or Amazon or Ebay because once you start clicking links, that's when you start to get into trouble.”

And you need to be vigilant on the days and weeks after your online purchases.

“This time of the year, it's very important to pay close attention to your online statements, meaning you get paper statements in the mail, but check your statements online at least every week or two and to verify all the different charges were, in fact, made by you,” said Siciliano.

Also make sure all you devices: desktops computers and laptops are protected with anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing software and a firewall.

And bank account info, pin numbers and social security numbers should not be put into a website.

Siciliano says the only exception would be a medical website that says your doctor directed you to.

And for a lot more great advice, we have a link to McAfee's 12 Scams of Christmas below.

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