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Thieves targeting holiday shoppers: How they work and what you can do

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Posted at 5:00 AM, Nov 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-29 11:40:44-05

It's not what you want to hear as you holiday shop online: thieves are setting up as many traps as they can.

Data Doctors Ken Colburn says scammers are waiting for you to click on their "amazing price" or "hard to find" product.

They are posing as shoppers with links to supposed great deals.

"They're going to send emails, post on social media, go to comment sections on websites," Colburn says.

If you click, they can take over your email or Facebook accounts. Thieves can pose as you, spread viruses, and more.

So, you can take your chances or take four pretty simple steps to protect yourself before you're in deep shop mode.

First, install something called a browser extension.

The company Trend Micro offers a free one that detects scams.

"It literally will check to see if there are signs the websites are suspicious.

It will investigate that link before you click it," Colburn says.

Second, download apps from your favorite stores and then shop through the app rather than online.

You can avoid a big chunk of the scams that way.

Third, question texts or emails saying things like "here's tracking information for your order" or "your credit card is about to be charged $500, please verify."

They come with links that you should never click.

Instead, if you are a customer of the business, contact them through ways you know are legitimate and see if there's an issue.

Likely there won't be a problem.

Finally, get another email account and Google voice phone number to use only for online shopping.

You'll protect your important email address and phone number from added scams.

Check out the Federal Trade Commission's advice on avoiding holiday shopping scams.