Shoppers warned of holiday cyber scams

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Computer experts say the holiday shopping season is perfect for scam artists who hack their way into your finances, and federal agents warn if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

It starts with Black Friday, moves on to Small Business Saturday, the sales, the wheeling and dealing continue through Cyber Monday with businesses offering hugely discounted items and never-seen-before specials -- all of which make computer experts wary.

"It's a cat and mouse game when you're talking about protecting yourself against identity theft and financial theft," said J. Colin Petersen with J - I.T. Outsource.

And he says consumers are often on the losing end, with a different kind of mouse. Offers that are a click away from a good deal clog your inbox. Petersen says it's best not to open that email.

"You want to make sure you're shopping at legitimate sites and that you're not being fooled or socially engineered into some other rogue site or nefarious site by being lured by a very attractive offer online," said Petersen.

He says make sure the URL is recognizable, always have your anti-virus software installed and up to date, and arm yourself with the latest scamming knowledge so you know where the hackers are trending.

The FBI's Cyber Division suggests you log into your bank account regularly -- something one Fresno mom says is especially important around the holidays.

"We change our passwords, have different passwords for everything," said Alison Quidato.

Quidato watches her account like a hawk and isn't concerned about breaches, like last year's hack that affected the personal accounts of about 12 million people. A year later that breach is still under investigation, which officials say is yet another reason to shop safely this holiday season.

The FBI also warns consumers to watch your social media accounts too, be wary of posts that offer gift cards or deals, never provide your personal information, and contact your bank if you suspect any suspicious activity.

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