Before you shop holiday deals online, FBI warns consumers to watch for fraud

Posted at 6:30 PM, Nov 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-21 20:48:00-05

If you’re going to shop the Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales online, we have some warnings for you.

7 Investigator Heather Catallo sat down with the head of the FBI Detroit office to get the best advice for you before you point and click your way to a good deal.

Shopping online can save you time and money, but it can also leave you vulnerable to hackers and scammers.

“It’s a pretty perilous time when someone’s online shopping,” said David Gelios, the FBI’s Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Division. He says the agents in the FBI’s Cyber Crimes division are working hard to fight online threats, but consumers have to stay vigilant.

Gelios says before you fill up that virtual shopping cart, make sure all of the software on your computer and your smart phone is updated.

“It’s very, very important to keep your anti-virus software up to date and current,” said Gelios.

Try to limit potential malware or virus infection by limiting where and how you shop online.

“Just use one computer at home that you don’t do any of your banking on – use nothing else other than that computer,” said Gelios.

Gelios says if you receive a shopping email with an offer that’s too good to be true, it probably is. Do not click on the link. 

And on websites, he says you should always check the URL at the top of the screen.

“You should always look for a ‘https.’ The ‘s’ stands for secure. It means the website is encrypted,” said Gelios.

Even if you end up on a website that looks like a familiar retailer, make sure you double check that web address.

“It can be a misspelling, it can be an extra dot. It can be things like that that might suggest to them it’s a fraudulent website,” said Gelios. He says it’s also a good idea to designate just one credit card for online shopping, and never use a debit card.

“We really recommend they use a credit card because credit card companies allow limited liability or no liability for charges that are contested,” said Gelios.

If you do encounter fraud online, the FBI cyber experts want to hear from you.

At, you can report what happened to you and perhaps you can trigger a criminal investigation.

“What the internet crime complaint center can do is collect all this information and find commonalities between criminals and if they see there’s a criminal enterprise actually behind some of these fraud schemes,” said Gelios.

The feds say you should save all of your receipts from your online transactions so you have a record. 

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