Many shoppers will head online today to look for holiday bargains, and state officials are offering some tips to help them avoid scams during what’s known as “Cyber Monday.”

Sandy Chalmers with the state Division of Consumer Protection says there are a lot of options out there for shoppers, but everyone should make sure the website they are buying from is legit before sending payment. She says a clear sign an online retailer is fraudulent is whether they have contact information on their site. If they do not, she says it’s likely a scam aimed at just taking your money or possibly even trying to steal your identity.

Another warning sight to watch out for is whether the checkout section of a site is encrypted. Chalmers says consumers should look for an ‘s’ at the end of the ‘http’ in the address bar. If it’s not there, then a payment site is not secure and you put your financial information at risk by using it.

Chalmers also suggests paying for online purchases with a credit card, instead of using a debit card tied to a bank account. That’s because there are laws in place that make it much easier to dispute unauthorized credit card purchases. A compromised bank account can lead to even bigger problems for consumers, since the money is usually gone until it’s recovered.

Chalmers says shoppers should keep a paper trail as well. Either print out confirmation emails or save them on your computer, just in case you need to access documents quickly that are related to a purchase.

While some websites may advertise great deals on hot products, Chalmers says it’s best to remember that a deal that looks too good to be true usually is just that.

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