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Rip-Off Alert | Scammers taking advantage of increase in online holiday shopping

For the first time ever, more consumers will be shopping online than in stores this holiday season, and scammers are taking advantage. (KSNV file)

For the first time ever, more consumers will be shopping online than in stores this holiday season, and scammers are taking advantage.

One benefit to shopping in stores: you know that what you see is what you get. However, that's not always the case in the digital domain.

According to the Better Business Bureau, online shopping scams peak in December, especially on hard-to-find items like Fingerlings monkeys.

"The average loss is $101 and the most susceptible to this kind of scam are young women," said Katherine Hutt with the BBB. "Scammers will always take advantage of scarcity."

The maker of the popular toys, WowWee, is filing a lawsuit against 165 companies for selling counterfeit Fingerlings. Consumers are complaining on social media about getting duped by fake websites or overseas sellers.

"Scammers will make a site that mimics a well-known brand and try to fool shoppers into buying substandard good or stealing money altogether," said Hutt.

Make sure you're not on a fake site by checking the URL. There should be a lock symbol and an "s" after "HTTP" so you know it's secure. If a seller asks you to pay with a gift card or wire transfer, that's a big red flag. Use a credit card for the most protection. Also, never click on links sent through unsolicited messages on social media, email, or text.

"You may miss out on a sale or two but more likely to miss out of getting ripped off," said Hutt.

With these tips, you're more likely to keep holiday purchases in your fingers and your money out of the hands of scammers.

Keep track of online purchases and deliveries. There's an email scam that's common this time of year and the email will look like it's from a shipping company with a tracking number. However, when consumers click the link, it brings them to a malicious website or even starts downloading malware.

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