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Safe Cyber Shopper: Staying safe while shopping online this holiday season

Online shopping has many perks! Online shopping can also leave you in a bind if you're not careful. Here are some tips to keep you, your information and money safe.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Now that Thanksgiving feasts are being devoured across the country, people are ready to go Black Friday shopping! A post-Thanksgiving tradition that has been around since the 1950s.

But maybe you've moved on from in-store shopping and would consider yourself a cyber shopper.

Well, if that's the case, here are some tips on how to play it safe while shopping on the web, all while snagging a couple of deals.

First things first, get your shopping done early!

Not only can shopping take more time than you think, so can shipping.

"When you're shopping online this holiday season, you want to make sure you start early especially online when it comes to shipping costs and things like that because shipping does take a little longer opposed to actually going in the store and picking up those items," said North Alabama BBB Communications and Marketing Coordinator, Lindsay George.

When you do shop online, vet the companies you're buying from, especially if you usually don't shop there.

RELATED: Thanksgiving on a Budget: Tips for a feast that won't break the bank.

"Use trusted vendors online. So, a lot of us will use Amazon, we've been using that for years, certainly through COVID. But if you're directed to some other website, with which you're not familiar or you've never purchased from them before, certainly that's something you need to at least weigh the risks involved with that and maybe do a little bit more research about that company," said Vice President and General Counsel at Gray Analytics, Jay Town.

So, okay - get your shopping done early, buy from trusted websites, got it! 

But what is the most ideal form of payment when it comes to keeping your personal information safe?

"Credit card is one of the safest forms of payment when it comes to shopping online especially and by doing so, using a credit card actually gives you like an extra protection against fraud and identity theft, in the event something does go wrong," said George.

It's not enough to just use a credit card, you should also be keeping an eye on your banking accounts.

"Monitor your accounts, monitor your credit card accounts, monitor your savings and checking accounts and make sure that those activities in there are your purchases," said Town.

And as for most scams...

"If a deal looks too good to be true then it probably is," said George.

Speaking of these 'too good to be true deals,' you should also be wary of opening, clicking on or replying to messages that you may receive containing these grand offers.

If you have recently received emails or even texts claiming that you've won a prize or are eligible for a major discount, while it may be tempting to click on it, the best way to practice cyber hygiene and to protect yourself is by not interacting with that message and then getting rid of the message by deleting it.

"Don't reply to emails, don't just click on links and you don't know what the link is. That is a portal into your device which, everything on that device then could be accessible by the cybercriminal on the other end," said Town.

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