RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Many of us are eagerly awaiting the big deals we anticipate will be available come Black Friday. 

However, the online shopping part of Black Friday may be impacted by fake customers and criminals who want to disrupt that e-commerce for various reasons. 

When we go shopping on Black Friday, we’ll only be competing against other shoppers. 

But, if you’re shopping online this Black Friday, you’ll be competing with other shoppers, as well as, robots — bots that are not there to make your shopping easier. 

Those bots sometimes target the consumer and sometimes they are looking to disrupt the systems of the retailer in a manner that will get your data,’’ said Guy Tytunovich who is the CEO  of CHEQ AI  which provides go-to-market security for retailers. 

As we approach the holiday shopping season, analysts at CHEQ AI predict 46 million fake shoppers will be launched at e-commerce sites, with automated shopping bots filling and abandoning over $3.5 billion worth of online shopping carts. 

“In some cases, it’s competitors who are sending bots to fill carts,” said Tytunovich.  “In which case, your stock would be blocked and they (the competitor) would sell to you the same item.” 

But it might not be at the same price. 

Scalpers are also using bots to snag hot or hard to get items before customers can get them online. 

“The scalpers want to be there and get the entire stock as quickly as possible,’’ said Tytunovich. 

That will cost you more than you’d pay if you could buy the item at retail. 

It’s predicted as much as 40 percent of the Black Friday online traffic this year could be made up of bots and fake shoppers.  

As a consumer you are almost at the hands of the retailer,” said Tytunovich.  “You have to hope the retailer does what it has to do to protect the consumer.” 

Beyond depending on retailers to keep you safe, you can also take several steps to protect yourself.   

Use a good antivirus program on your devices and don’t reuse passwords across multiple e-commerce websites. 

To be safer, make sure you shop with a credit card — not a debit card.  

Debit cards are connected to your bank account, so you don’t want to give a scammer’s bot access to that.