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How to protect yourself on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

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(NewsNation) — Each year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping brings savings to consumers around the holidays, and every year, scammers try to take advantage of those looking for a deal.

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Cyrus Walker, founder and managing principal of Data Defenders, LLC, spoke with NewsNation’s Mitch Carr about how to protect yourself this holiday shopping season.

You can watch the full interview in the video player at the top of this article.

How common are in-store scams, and what should shoppers look out for?

“In-store, a scam can be tied directly to credit card fraud,” Walker said. “At the POS, or the point of sale, machine where you swipe your credit card, there could be skimming devices placed on top of those credit card swipe machines that are designed to steal your information from the credit card for fraudulent use.”

Walker said this means you want to be aware of the device that you’re using.

“I always suggest just taking your hand and shaking the device. If it’s rattling and looser than you think it normally should be, then you probably shouldn’t use that machine and should inform the store manager,” Walker said.

Which websites should shoppers use, and which should they avoid?

“The sites that you should avoid are the ones that you’re not familiar with,” Walker said. “And because Cyber Monday is coming, email is going to be a big deal. Retailers are going to be using email to entice consumers to their websites. You want to be careful of fraudulent emails that you might receive that are also designed to steal your information.”

Walker recommends shopping only from reputable retailers via the online format.

“If you receive an email that looks too good to be true, just go directly to the website and execute your purchase,” he said. “From that perspective, don’t click on any links and emails because they are generally set up to either infect your computer or steal information.”

How often should you check your bank account or your credit card accounts?

“Banks and credit cards have now enabled mobile alerts so that you can keep track of every purchase that’s made using your credit card or bank account,” Walker said.”I would definitely recommend setting that up so that you know exactly what’s hitting your credit card or your bank account at all times.”

Credit card companies do offer virtual cards now, Walker said, so instead of using your actual credit card, you can use a virtual credit card that changes on a frequent basis.

That way, Walker said, your actual credit card information is not being put out there on the internet.

“Go to your credit card section of your online banking and you will more than likely see an option for using virtual credit cards that are designed to change over time to help prevent fraudulent use, especially during this particular period of time when the credit cards are going to be used online quite frequently,” he added.

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