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Beware of consumer fraud when holiday shopping online

The closer it gets to the holidays, the more frantically some Illinois residents shop. Taking advantage of online bargains and guaranteed fast delivery is incentive for consumers to spend more money. Those looking for unique gifts may stray away from known and trusted online retailers and shop at boutiques instead. However, the Better Business Bureau has issued warnings again this year to be aware of the many types of consumer fraud to which busy shoppers may be vulnerable.

More retails stores have chip readers, so brick-and-mortar shopping is much safer than in years past. However, online scams are on the rise, and fraudsters are becoming ever savvier. Some consumer advocates remind shoppers to deal only with websites that have the secure "https" and padlock icon in the address. Shoppers can also protect their bank accounts by using only credit cards and never debit cards when purchasing online.

Phishing scams increase during the holidays. These are emails that download malware to steal personal information from your computer. Some scammers use Christmas e-cards to perpetrate this fraud.

Holidays often bring out the generosity in many people. Scammers know that a heartfelt plea for charity can be a payday if consumers respond with bank account information believing they are contributing to a good cause. The scam may become more personal if the consumer receives a call from a friend or family member claiming to be in trouble and needing money or one's bank card number.

Difficult as it is to imagine a world in which swindlers would take advantage of the holiday spirit, the potential for consumer fraud is too real. Those in Illinois who suffer losses because of scams or identity theft certainly want to take every possible step to seek justice. An attorney skilled in consumer protection laws may provide an important advantage.

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