Holiday shopping season brings threat of scammers and thieves, experts say

Dinner has turned to leftovers and many people are turning to their next Thanksgiving tradition: shopping.

An estimated 166 million Americans are expected to seek out good deals between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation. The highest amount since they began keeping track in 2017.

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But with holiday shopping comes risk from scammers and thieves. Police say you can’t put a price on the most important gift -- your safety.

Officers with the Matthews Police Department advise you should keep your bags and purse close, not carry a lot of cash and don’t leave items visible in your car windows.

Alec Forbis, a shopper in Matthews, said he plans to follow that advice as he engages in his favorite Thanksgiving traditions.

“Just being with our friends, family, shopping nothing out of the ordinary,” he said.

Miranda Wheeler told Channel 9 she plans to take advantage of online deals.

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“We normally get up really early in the morning and go, but this year we will probably just do it online,” said Wheeler, an Indian Trail resident.

Fraud and security experts warn that even on the web, this is a prime time for bad actors.

“You know what has a lot of value? Your Gmail account,” said James Lee, chief operating officer with the Identity Theft Resource Center. “Your basic login and password to your email account can go for anywhere between $50 and $100.”

Lee recommends creating a long, unique password for each account. Security advisors also suggest putting an alert on your bank cards and being aware of unsolicited links like phishing scams.

“Be very, very careful not to click on any links, not to respond to any texts unless you’re absolutely certain that you know the organization, the business, the charity or the friend,” Lee said.

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