Tips to avoid getting scammed this holiday season

57 percent of all holiday shopping will be online in 2016

The holidays are just around the corner, and that means shoppers are out in full force searching for that perfect gift, but scammers are trying to take advantage.

Experts say around 57 percent of all holiday shopping will be done online this year.

The reason? It’s becoming more and more convenient.

Scammers continue to find more ways to take advantage of those in the giving spirit.

For shoppers this holiday season, ditching the mall for your phone to shop is the way to go.

“It’s just so much easier than going out to the stores and trying to find parking and the cold and the crowds,” shopper Kelly Garves said.

That means scammers are finding more ways to target your money.

One of those ways is through emails pretending to be shipping companies needing more information before your purchase can be sent.

“The intention is for the thief to try and get an unsuspecting consumer to click on one of their links through the email,” Frank Frassetto, division administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection, said. “What that link does is essentially download malicious software onto a consumer’s computer.”

But experts say there’s a simple way to determine if it is safe to click.

“You can do that very easily by hovering your curser over the URL or any of the links that are in there, and they will tell you where any of those links are going to take you,” Frassetto said.

Another common scam during the holidays is fake charities, whether online or by phone, asking for money.

“This is the time when thieves are out there trying to mask their identity and posing as a legitimate charity and end up calling folks and being very aggressive,” Frassetto said.

Instead of making split decisions experts say you should ask plenty of questions.

“(Questions like) What is the organization is all about — what kind of services do they provide?” Frassetto said.

And if you are traveling this holiday season, experts say be aware of card skimmers found at gas pumps and ATM machines across the state.

“A couple of hints would be to look at the dispenser, and if you see some of this colored security tape over the gaps of the access panels, that’s good indication if it is not broken or if it looks like it hasn’t been tampered with, that the dispenser is free and clear of a skimmer,” Frassetto said.

Experts say if possible, to pick pumps at gas stations that are closer to the cash register, because thieves probably did not set their skimmer close to the building.

The other tip is to simply pay inside if you are worried about skimmers.