Don't Fall Victim to the '12 Scams of Christmas'

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Cyber criminals are on the move as more and more people look online for holiday shopping deals. With a few tips, however, you can avoid being scammed.

The well-known computer security company McAfee released its "12 Scams of Christmas" list to help consumers this shopping season.

The no. 1 scam involves fake charity emails.

"In reality, they are fake Web sites designed to steal donations, credit card information and the identities of donors," McAfee warned on its Web site.

It's recommended that users never click email links that redirect them to unfamiliar sites. If an email seems to be from a legitimate charity, but takes you to an outside Web page to make a donation, it could be a scam.

Shoppers are also warned to be on the lookout for fake invoices from delivery services. Do not respond to emails that request credit card information in order to receive package tracking or confirmation.

Holiday e-card, unemployment and social networking scams are also on the rise, according to McAfee. Click here to view all 12 scams of Christmas and how to avoid them.

These quick tips can also keep your holiday shopping safe:

  • Visit Whois.net to look up unfamiliar Web sites offering deals that seem too good to be true. Be careful if the site has only been around for a few days.
  • Avoid opening emails from senders you don't know.
  • Never pay for a coupon. Selling coupons violates manufacturer policies and any reputable company would not do this.
  • Limit the amount of online forms you fill out for mailing lists, trial memberships, coupons, etc., especially if the site is unfamiliar to you.
  • Avoid "free stuff" links.
  • Be responsible when looking for big ticket items and high end purchases. It's best to deal with well-known retailers to avoid counterfeit and gray-market good.
  • Trust your gut. If a site or online purchase seems shady, it probably is.

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