Don't let cyber grinches ruin holiday shopping

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I’m usually in too much of a Thanksgiving food coma to hit the sales on Black Friday, but millions of other Americans somehow find the energy. Last year, 89 million people took advantage of Black Friday sales (57 million of them online), while an estimated 247 million shopped throughout the four-day weekend, as stores increasingly have opened their doors on Thanksgiving itself.
In addition, millions of bargain hunters spent another $2 billion on Cyber Monday, so it’s clear that online holiday shopping is here to stay. Unfortunately, cyber criminals have zeroed in on this trend and are redoubling their efforts to separate shoppers from their hard-earned cash.
Whether you’re shopping online by computer, smartphone, or tablet, here are some common cyber scams to watch out for and security precautions to take:
Tips for buying gift cards:
Only buy from secure websites of trusted retailers (look for an “s” in the “https://” web address and a lock symbol).
At walk-in stores, only purchase cards from employees who have them locked up. Avoid cards at unattended display racks, since thieves can scan the card’s unique serial number; then, after you’ve loaded it with cash, drain its value with online purchases before the recipient has a chance to use it.

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