RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Holiday shopping is supposed to be fun but this year, shortages caused by supply chain issues are adding frustration to the season. Scammers know that and are using that frustration to target you with various schemes.  

With many of us more concerned about lack of inventory and concentrating on finding the gift we want, we aren’t paying as much attention to the red flags that might tell us we’re heading into scam territory. 

With many of us suffering pandemic fatigue, we are itching to create a gift-filled Christmas and want to buy lots of things for family and friends. 

“I’m going to buy more because I’m happy to see people and do more than in the past year or so,” said shopper Melanie Bryan. 

Retail shopping sales for 2021 are expected to reach $206 billion and criminals running scams want as much of that money as they can get. 

One way to do that is to attack you at the point of sale when you use your debit card. 

“You need to stop using debit cards, said cybersecurity expert Russ Munisteri who is the Assistant Director of Education at MyComputerCareer

That’s because your debit card connects directly to your bank account. 

Munisteri says don’t use a debit card as a credit card even if a store gives you that option. 

“I never use a debit card for anything,” he said. “If you are subjected to identity theft it’s better for the cyber attacker to steal the credit card company’s money.” 

With so much merchandise still sitting on ships or backlogged at docks, scammers are creating fake pop-up stores online.

“Be careful of unfamiliar online retails offering products for much less than the cost compared to your ‘go-to’ store,” said Munisteri. 

Not only will those sites steal your money by offering non-existent goods, but they also provide criminals with a way to steal your credentials for future scams. 

“They are looking to gain a username and password,” he said. 

As we draw closer to Christmas, scammers are going to kick their attacks into high gear because they know the shopping frenzy will increase and most of us will be too distracted to realize we’re being played.