‘Tis the Season to Shop Safe and Smart

Beware of con artists waiting in the wings for desperate online shoppers this holiday season 

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Black Friday deals are already live, and with supply issues and product shortages, your best options to find what you want may be online. Beware of con artists waiting in the wings for desperate online shoppers.

Thieves are hoping you’ll be rushed — so don't be.

Cybersecurity expert Alain Espinosa says you should think twice before clicking on any links, including those in emails from known stores. Instead, type the website into your browser yourself and search for the item.

They’re ramping up and getting ready, especially with the Black Friday deals already going live.

Alain Espinosa, cybersecurity expert

Also take time to research any sellers you've never heard of.

“You could go to the Better Business Bureau’s website and look that business up and see what kind of rating they have," Espinosa said. "See if they’re even listed for that matter.”

And make sure you use only credit — not debit — cards, and consider using services like virtual credit card numbers, Apple Pay or Google Pay.

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"When you use Apple Pay or Google Pay, the transaction does not communicate your actual credit card number to the vendor," Espinosa said. "And so that transaction actually creates a specialized one-time token to transact. So if that was stolen, there's really nothing else they could do with it."

Shipment tracking information can also be faked. Again, avoid clicking on any links in emails from shipping companies. Go to the shipper's website and type in the code to see if it is real. If there's no tracking number in the email, that is a red flag it may be fraudulent.

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