The holiday shopping season kicks into high gear this week, and that means millions of people will be shopping in stores and online.

The National Retail Federation says for the first time this holiday season, more people are expected to shop online versus at brick-and-mortar stores.

Chris Duque is a cybersecurity expert and investigator with the Honolulu prosecutor’s office.

“Sooner or later, you play with fire, you’re going to get burned. You go online and you do online shopping, there’s a chance, there’s a good chance that sooner or later you’re going to get hit. You’re going to get victimized,” he warned.

Duque says large data breaches prove that even big-name retailers are vulnerable.

The Hawaii Better Business Bureau says people need to do their part to combat fraud and deceptive advertising, especially when it comes to clicking on ads and links.

“A lot of times, (customers) don’t really pay attention to where those specials are coming from. They could be coming from different places than where the ad says it is, so make sure you pay attention to where the browser says you are,” said Jason Kama, Hawaii Better Business Bureau director of marketing.

The BBB says when you’re shopping online, make sure you use a secure internet connection. If you’re using a smartphone, tablet, or other handheld device, make sure it’s password protected.

And with the expected rise in credit card usage, make sure you monitor your credit card and bank statements.

“Any kind of transaction online or offline, keep those documentation, because if you’re going to report that you’ve been defrauded, the first thing I’m going to ask as an investigator is show me the documentation. Show me a screen capture. Show me a printed receipt,” Duque said.

Duque also suggests you put together a game plan in the event that you do become a victim of fraud.

“One is that if you know that you got ripped off, get all your documentation in place — who you were doing business with, what accounts were compromised, what financial institutions might be involved,” he said.

Duque says you should also make a police report, put a freeze on your credit report, and alert your credit card companies and banks.

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