Published: Nov 23, 2012 1:37 PM EST
Updated: Nov 23, 2012 7:26 PM EST

FORT MYERS, Fla. - As you wrap up your Black Friday shopping, maybe you're planning to do some of it online, taking part in Cyber Monday.  But buyer beware as you head onto the information superhighway because scammers are spying and looking to take advantage.

Stacey Payne is the Community Relations Manager for the Lee County Sheriff's Office.  She says the holiday shopping season is the time of year scammers are looking for their next victim.

"Shopping online is a great easy thing.  We do it in our pajamas, we can be comfortable at it, but there are definitely some things we want to keep a look out for," said Payne.

If you plan to log on and buy big, remember to stay smart and shop smart.  It all starts with the website domain, making sure you're on a secure website.

"You can easily tell that by looking for a padlock at the bottom of the screen or up in the browser window where you've got the address, look for https.  If there is an s after the p then you're at a secure site.  You've got to make sure you're on a legitimate website," said Payne.

Scammers can create websites that look like the real deal in hopes that you'll go to their site.  But if you go to the wrong one, you'll be giving away your information and you'll never get the items you wanted.  There are other helpful hings to make sure your personal information isn't at risk.

  • Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Scan the attachments for viruses if possible.
  • Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
  • Always compare the link in the e-mail to the link you are actually directed to and determine if they actually match and will lead you to a legitimate site.
  • Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
  • Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify if the e-mail is genuine.
  • If you are requested to act quickly or there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly.
  • Verify any requests for personal information from any business or financial institution by contacting them using the main contact information.
  • Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.



"You don't know what you're getting into and it maybe some sort of malware that you're downloading into your computer system.  There are too many good, honest, legitimate stores out there that will sell you something at a good deal, at a good price, without you getting ripped off," said Payne.

If you think you're a fraud victim, you can call the Lee County Sheriff's Office Fraud Line at (239) 477-1242 and www.ic3.gov to report any other online scam or fraud.