While scammers are active throughout the year, the holiday season is an especially lucrative time for online thieves. Make sure to take extra security precautions while shopping online. 

Conduct Research
When using a new website for purchases, read reviews and see if other consumers have had a positive experiences. 

When In Doubt, Throw It Out. 
Links in emails, pop-ups,  posts and texts are often how cybercriminals try to steal information or infect devices.

Get Two-Steps Ahead
Turn on two-step authentication on key accounts like banking and email. Also, ensure your passwords are unique and don't contain any identifying information. 

Use Caution with Wi-Fi Hotspots
Limit the type of activity you conduct on public wireless networks when shopping on the go. 

Protect Your Hard-Earned Money
When shopping, check to make sure the site is security enabled. Look for URLs with the https:// to help secure your information. Use credit credit cards when possible and make sure to monitor your bank accounts.

12 Popular Holiday Scams

Look-Alike Websites
When stores sell out, you may find the items online on different websites than the official retailer's. Remember, it's easy to mimic a real website. Some sellers will take your money and run, leaving you without the gift or money to buy it elsewhere.

Fake Shipping Notifications
These can have attachments or links to sites that will download malware on your computer to steal your identity and your passwords. Don't be fooled by a holiday phishing scam.

Social Media Gift Exchange
Purchasing one gift and receiving 36 sounds like a great deal, but this seasonal scam is actually a pyramid scheme, which is illegal. 

Phony Charities
Everyone is in a generous mood during the holidays, so scammers take advantage of that with fake charity solicitations in email, on social media sites, and even by text. Check out charities at give.org before donating.  

Grandparent Scams
Seniors should be cautious if they get a call from a grandchild claiming to be in an accident, arrested or hospitalized while traveling in another county. Never send money unless you confirm with another family member that it's true. 

Letters From Santa
Several trusted companies offer charming and personalized letters from Santa, but scammers mimic them to get personal information from unsuspecting parents. Check with bbb.org to find out which ones are legitimate. 

Temporary Holiday Jobs
Retailers and delivery services need extra help at the holidays, but beware of solicitations that require you to share personal information online or pay for a job lead. Apply in person or go to retailers' main website to find out who is hiring. 

Unusual Forms of Payments
Be wary of anyone who asks you to pay for holiday purchases using prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc. These payments cannot be traced and cannot be undone.

Free Gift Cards
Pop-up ads or email offering free gift cards are often just a ploy to get your personal information that can later be used for identity theft. 

Travel Scams
With busy holiday travel, bargains may be tempting. Be cautious when booking through online ads, never wire money to someone you don't know and ask for references. 

Electronic cards can be great fun, but be careful. Two red flags to watch out for are: the sender's name is not apparent; you are required to share additional information to get the card. 

Puppy Scams
Be very careful of buying pets online, especially during the holidays. you may get a puppy mill pooch with problems, or you may get nothing at all because it was a scam.