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Cyber experts provide helpful advice to avoid being scammed this holiday season

Posted at 7:47 AM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 11:12:56-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — For many, tomorrow will be the biggest day of the week with Thanksgiving but for others, it might be the day after.

'Black Friday’ is a shopper’s dream. But with the potential for scams, it can quickly turn into a nightmare.

With that said, cyber experts are providing plenty of advice this time of year. Tread carefully and know who and where you are buying from. It might sound like common sense, but there are millions of shoppers who are scammed every day. Another piece of advice- be mindful of your social media presence.

Tom Kelly, a cyber expert and CEO of IDX, says having a social media presence poses the greatest threat to being scammed. He says social media sites measure users and scrape every piece of your personal information.

Being scammed also starts with the base line level of phishing where you might get an email from a scammer posing as an institution. Kelly says phishing emails are becoming more sophisticated with logos and their format, making it appear legitimate.

The most popular type of phishing email he says this time of year are ones looking like they come from UPS, USPS or FedEx. They might say your package has been delayed and you need to click somewhere within the body of the email to correct it. This, as well as checking the sender, can help you avoid being scammed.

“Be highly suspicious," says Kelly. "Everything that comes at you, you should presume is probably a candidate- if not, highly likely- to be fraudulent.”

One way Kelly says to avoid the holiday high jinks- change your password on a regular basis. Use multi-factor authentication as much as you can. And always use a VPN, a secure network that will help take away the risk of compromising your security.

You might think, with higher gas and grocery prices, this year, more people are sticking to their holiday shopping budget. But, before we even get to Black Friday, the experts say, it's not happening.

People are spending so much this year due to a combination of inflation and wanting to make others happy. A recent report from CreditCards.com says 4 in 10 shoppers will willingly go into debt during the holidays, because they want to bring cheer to their loved ones and themselves.

Analysts say spending priorities improved during the beginning of the pandemic. Credit card debt dropped thanks to help from the government - people were using stimulus money to pay down credit cards and loan repayments were suspended. However, during the third quarter of the year, household debt increased. This combined with the recent inflation of goods, and holiday spending, could push people further into debt.

“So your holiday party is going to cost more, your holiday travel, your holiday gifts," said Ted Rossman, Senior Industry Analyst with CreditCards.com. "My advice would be, let's celebrate the holidays without adding to our credit card debt.I think it's great that so many people have paid down debt. That's hard to do."

When it comes to your shopping list. Experts say you want to make sure you grab the good deals immediately because supply chain issues could cause items to be limited.

Shipping delays are expected to be worse than what we saw last year, so experts also say shop early and in person if you can. If you choose to shop online, make sure the item you're buying is in stock. And if you have an option for curbside pickup, use it.