ALBANY, Ga. -- More Americans than ever are expected to use the Internet to purchase Christmas gifts this year. Leonard Crane of the Southwest Georgia Better Business Bureau and the Internet security firm McAfee Labs advise caution while making holiday purchases to protect cybershoppers from fraud and outright scams.
"The biggest problem we've seen in regard to online shopping is nondelivery of products," Crane, the president and CEO of the regional BBB, said Monday. "We stress to people that it's important to know who they are doing business with and determine that the company is legitimate."
Crane said consumers can take several simple steps to protect themselves.
Identity theft is also a major problem, the BBB president said.
"There are 'phishing expeditions' all over the Internet where people are looking for e-mail addresses, passwords and bank information," he said. "That's why we cannot stress enough that the best way to avoid being ripped off is to know who you are doing business with."
Dave Marcus, director of security research at McAfee Labs, recently told MSN.com that the scams are varied.
"Scams continue to be big business for cybercriminals who have their sights set on capitalizing on open hearts and wallets," Marcus said in the MSN.com report. "It's important to recognize common scams to safeguard against theft during the busy season ahead."
McAfee listed some of the top scams of the season:
- Free iPad offers
- The "Help! I've been robbed!" scam
- Fake gift cards
- Holiday job offers
- Phishing expeditions
- Suspicious holiday rentals
- Low-price traps
- Charity scams
McAfee also offered five tips to help shoppers protect their computer and personal information.
- Stick to well-established and trusted websites that include trust marks.
- Do not respond to offers in a spam e-mail, text or instant message.
- Pay attention to a website's address to make sure you are actually on a legitimate site.
- Beware of vendors who offer products priced well below the norm.
- Make sure you are on trusted and secured Wi-Fi networks. Don't check bank accounts or shop online if you are unsure the network is safe.