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Consumer Advocates Expect A Big Holiday Season For Cyber Scams

A customer pays for goods while shopping at the Atlanta Farmers Market in Atl...

Photo by David Goldman AP

Above: A customer pays for goods while shopping at the Atlanta Farmers Market in Atlanta. Consumer spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

Millions of people are expected to do some holiday shopping online for Cyber Monday.

The National Retail Federation estimates 116 million people shopped on Black Friday. Cyber Monday comes in second for the busy holiday shopping weekend — 75 million people will buy gifts online. Consumer advocates anticipate there will be plenty of scams amid the deals.

Emails that mirror famous stores and brands that contain fake coupons are a huge problem, said Linda Sherry, Consumer Action's director of national priorities.

“They can often give such a look-alike URL, or web address, that consumers are often fooled,” she said.

Some protections include shopping at places you already know and trust. Look for web addresses that start with HTTPS, or have a padlock icon to show they are secure. It is also a little easier to spot fake addresses on a computer rather than a phone or tablet.

“If you have a credit card, use a credit card," she said. "The reason we say that is a debit card takes the money right out of your bank account.”

Credit card companies also often have a more favorable fraud resolution process for consumers, she said.

Fake coupons among the most common scams expected as more shopping shifts to online retailers this holiday season.

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