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Expert explains how to protect yourself from online scams this holiday season

If you want to avoid the crowds and shop from your couch, beware of these scams.

BEAUMONT, Texas — With Christmas only one week away, many people are probably planning to be doing some last-minute shopping this weekend.

If you want to avoid the crowds and shop from your couch, beware of these scams.

Online shopping is easy, convenient, and hassle-free, all of which makes it the perfect breeding ground for scammers looking to make some easy money.

The Friday before Christmas is the second busiest day of the entire year, right behind black Friday. And a lot of people are turning to their web browsers for a simpler experience.

"The scams that are coming through right now are all online purchases through fake websites. And people are losing money," said Liz Fredrichs, president of the Southeast Texas Better Business Bureau.

These scammers are counting on shoppers being in a distracted rush.

"It was one of those moments where it kind of caught me off guard. I was only half paying attention and browsing," said Nicholee Roesler, a victim of credit card scams.

Although shopping scams come in all shapes and sizes, the president of the Southeast Texas Better Business Bureau said the most common are ads for big sales that don't actually exist.

"I think in the last month we have people lose almost $3,000 on fake websites," Fredrichs said.

These scammers will either replicate websites for high-end brands or create a brand you may not have heard of before. And this year holiday scams are on the rise.

"Maybe it's the result of so many people, more people being online last year that all of that has increased and possibly just because it's difficult to find products in some cases,” Fredrichs said.

So how can you protect yourself?

"When you're on a website, you're not familiar with the retailer and the number one thing is to check the BBB.COM, open another browser, check customer reviews on that company,” Fredrichs said. “And then look for an address a physical address of the company, a phone number and I would call the phone number. Make sure someone actually answers it. So, those are the four things I would recommend on any retail website that you have never dealt with before.”

Fredrichs said aside from those four steps, the best way to avoid falling victim to online scams is to shop locally. If you encounter any issues, at least you'll know exactly where to go for help.

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