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Safety first with online holiday shopping

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Albany/HV: Safety first with online holiday shopping
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With more Americans than ever logging on for Cyber Monday, the lure of big sales could pose a big risk to your security. Our Solomon Syed has some safety tips for all you "e-shoppers" out there.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- If you thought Black Friday was a rush, try surfing the net on Cyber Monday.
If the deals seem too good to be true, they might be.

"You want to make sure you're going to trusted Web sites, said Marcos Vigil, New York's Deputy Secretary of State. The number of websites selling fake merchandise is on the rise. In fact, U.S. and European authorities shut down 132 of those sites Monday.

"Unfortunately, counterfeiters have expanded from selling DVDs and purses, to products that affect the health and safety and consumers," said John Morton, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Looking for steals online, shoppers also need to worry about identity thieves.

"The threats will number in the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands," said Tom Smith, a cyber security expert for the New York State Office of Cyber Security.

These days, half of all adult Americans use a tablet or a smartphone, but both can give you a holiday headache.

"To the extent that you're accessing the internet through a wireless connection, a hotspot in the store or the airport, those interactions are not necessarily secure," said Smith.

According to IBM, almost 20 percent of all online purchases were made using either an iPad or iPhone. Even Black Friday has become more Web-based. For the first time, Internet sales the day after Thanksgiving topped $1 billion.

"With an increase in online shopping comes an increase in online predators," said Morton.

"Look at the address and see if it has an 'HTTPS.' If the 'S' is missing, it's a warning sign," said Vigil.

Cyber Monday sales are expected to reach $1.5 billion, and with billions more to be spent through holidays, that advice rings true year-round.

For more safety tips, visit the NYS Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website and Stay Safe Online.

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