As we’ve stated in this space before, spending your consumer dollars locally helps local businesses and employees, generates local tax dollars, and generally helps sustain our local economy.

But if you do opt to shop online, beware there are many cyber scams during this holiday season designed to take money from shoppers. 

Online sales during the 2016 holiday season hit a record $91.7 billion in sales, up from $82.5 billion in 2015. Researchers anticipate even more online sales in 2017.

The FBI’s 2016 Internet Crime Report stated recently, loss from cybercrime exceeded $1.3 billion in the United States last year. The report noted 2,455 Oklahomans made complaints to the FBI and lost more than $15.4 million. 

Oklahoma Attorney General and OSU grad Mike Hunter stated in a release that rapid advancement in technology have made scams more sophisticated.

“Cybercriminals view the holiday season as an opportune time to take advantage of individuals looking to find good deals and save money,” Hunter said. “Though it is convenient and easy to make holiday purchases online, I am urging Oklahomans to be vigilant while searching the internet for gifts for their loved ones.”

Hunter offers the following online shopping tips to protect Oklahomans and their families this holiday season.

– Never click on popup ads; – Popup ads could contain malware or spyware that will infect computers with a virus or steal personal information;

– Never make a payment through a wire transfer for an online purchase; 

– Continuously check credit card and bank statements for unauthorized activity;

– If purchasing from an online store consumers have never heard of, confirm a physical address and phone number before placing an order;

– Watch for copycat websites – cybercriminals create fake websites and offer deals on well-known brands. When accessing the website, it will install malware that will steal personal information. To avoid this, check the website for misspellings, or retype the actual website into the URL;

– Use best judgment, if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

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