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Experts offer tips to protect yourself from scammers while shopping online

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Posted at 4:29 PM, Nov 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-25 18:29:19-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Tis the season for intense Internet shopping, as consumers are expected to spend billions of dollars online this year.

Shopping the web is convenient, and the deals can be great—but there are also risks you need to be aware of.

The National Retail Federation predicts Americans will spend more than $100 billion online this holiday season.

And, with that kind of money floating around, experts say scammers are lurking in cyber space, looking to grab their unfair share.

"A scam artist’s worst nightmare is an educated consumer,” said Dan O’Bannon with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.

O'Bannon says more and more folks are using their phones and mobile devices for nearly everything, including shopping. He said that's fine, as long as you're careful.

“You may see a deal and be so excited that you want to jump on top of it,” he said. “Make sure when you're using a mobile device, that you are on a secure connection. You may be in a store and find there's a Wi-Fi signal available—but it might be public and not secure."

On an unsecured network, hackers could access that transaction and your credit or debit card information.

O'Bannon also says it's wise to shop sites you're familiar with and which have established return policies, because you could find a retailer either won't take an item back or might charge an outrageous re-stocking fee.

"With all the deals that are out there, people get excited and they're in a hurry,” he said. “But it's going to be well worth your time to take a minute, make sure the transaction is secure, from a trusted source, and that you're not going to end up with a headache down the road."

And in this brave, new world of cyber shopping, he says it's good to remember an old-school rule.

"The vast, vast majority of times, if something seems too good to be true: it is too good to be true," O'Bannon said.