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Be wary while holiday shopping, scammers on the lookout

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Black Friday is now quite literally around the corner. Before you click on some of those amazing sales online, you need to be careful.

With just a click of a mouse and a couple of keystrokes, your identity and money could be gone.

"Identity theft this time of year really spikes, because we've got a flux of folks going online because of shopping," Eric Tamashasky with the St. Joseph County Cyber Crimes Unit says. "If 1% of people fall for it, scammers have had a pretty good day."

He adds that the holiday shopping season is the time where most of these problems happen.

Those too good to be true deals are usually just too good to be true.

"If the URL has "https," that means it's encrypted both ways and the traffic from you to them isn't easily intercepted. I wouldn't want to do business with a company or any website that was "http" without an "s," explains Tamashasky. "That's un-encrypted and it's begging to have credit card numbers or personal identification numbers intercepted or stolen."

But that's not all.

"A lot of these websites that don't look real, really aren't. They're very happy to take your money," he adds. 

So what can you do?

Don't follow the links that are flooding your inbox. Instead, go directly to each website. 

And, don't spend your money on weird-looking, unfamiliar websites.

"I'd spend a couple of extra dollars to buy something from a site where you know you have recourse if something goes wrong," says Tamashasky. 

And of course, always keep a close eye on your accounts. If something looks fishy, speak up and alert your credit card company immediately. 

"This is a great reminder for folks to be vigilant on all of their credit cards and accounts and keep an eye on the numbers," he adds.

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