The holiday and shopping season is officially here. Before you swipe your card, you need to arm yourself with knowledge so that you are safe from common scams.

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The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Upstate New York wants to keep you safe, so they are letting New Yorkers know about the scams we need to watch out for. They are offering tips to help all of us shop smart and avoid online scams.

Do Your Research

Before making a buy, take the time to research the product and the seller. You heard this saying before: "If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is." The price should not be the only thing that helps you decide if you should buy it.

Watch Out For Fake Websites

Scammers like to create fake websites to fool shoppers. Always check the URL to make sure the site is real, watch out for bad grammar on the website, and look for contact information. Try to find out when the website was created, if it’s a brand new website use caution.

Don't Be Fooled by Professional Photos

Images can be deceiving. The BBB says that scam websites are known for pulling people in with professional looking photos. Just be careful.

Ensure Website Security

Check for the "HTTPS" in the website URL. This means the website uses a secure connection. Look for a small lock icon on the address bar because that shows the site has a legitimate security certificate. Never enter payment or personal information on a website that only uses "HTTP" – it's not secure and could put your data at risk.

Be Cautious with Popular Products

During the holiday season, scammers take advantage of a lot of people doing online shopping and offer too good to be true deals on popular products. Watch out for red flags. Once again, if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Be Careful With Social Media Purchases

Scammers are really good at finding people through social media. Take your time and be careful about buying stuff through social media.

Use Secure and Traceable Payment Methods

If you pay with a credit card, it lessens the chances of losing money online. Be careful about using digital wallet apps and prepaid money cards because they are a higher risk.

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Gallery Credit: Traci Taylor

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