San Jose State University

How to Protect Yourself From Online Holiday Shopping Scams

Online shoppers, beware.

Scammers could be going after your money this holiday season as you try to take advantage of online deals.

According to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, scammers stole $184 million from people online during last year's holiday shopping season.

"The criminals are getting smarter," Professor Ahmad Banafa, a cybersecurity expert at San Jose State University, said.

Banafa says online shopping scams come in different forms, but some of the most popular ones are fake websites and phishing emails that may look like they belong to a legitimate company but are actually tricks designed to have online shoppers hand over their personal information to scammers.

"Number one is don't click on any links in the email or open any attachments from retailers," Banafa said. "Retailers will never send you an attachment."

And if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

People who decide to shop in store are advised by Banafa to not leave electronics in their car while they shop, even if the car is locked and the devices are hidden. Thieves can use a smartphone app and bluetooth to find those devices and break into cars to steal them.

"When you're passing by a car, you will know there's a device there that's emitting these kinds of signals," Banafa said.

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