COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Shopping malls are full of people purchasing gifts but more and more are choosing to do their shopping online.
The Better Business Bureau in Columbus says scammers are taking advantage.
"During this season one of the ways that they do that is fake websites or fake charities," says Leonard Crain, President of the Columbus Better Business Bureau.
According to Crain, popular holiday scams this year all have one thing in common: enticing consumers online to steal their identity.
"People can capture your personal information. Some of those are breaches or theft. They are hacking into the company's database to steal the info," said Crain.
So far this year, the BBB in Columbus has received reports about look-alike websites that are identical in appearance to big retailers but have extra words in the domain. When you make an online purchase and check out, they get your information but you never get what you ordered.
Another scam is fake shipping notifications that come by email. Scammers try to get you to click on a link to see when your holiday package will arrive when really you've clicked a link to download malware on your computer designed to steal your passwords.
"I've seen people in this area fall for these scams, losing tens of thousands of dollars," said Tom Weise, a Columbus consumer.
By far the most frustrating scam this time of year Cain says are fake charities.
"Every time a donated dollar is stolen it's that much more that doesn't go to those who really need it," said Cain.
So how can you protect yourself?
Only shop on secured websites. Cain says you can tell the site is secure if it begins with "https."
BBB officials also say before making a donation, you can ask to see the company's tax forms or to see if a charity is legitimate research them on the BBB's site www.give.org.