Beware of shopping scams this holiday season

Author: , Reporter, RDuarte@wfmz.com
Published: Nov 20 2012 07:00:00 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 21 2012 05:31:06 AM EST
BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. -

Soon shoppers will be out  hitting stores full force.  Area police departments want to remind everyone that thieves will be out too, looking for that perfect opportunity.

Local area police departments like Bethlehem Township, say they're adding security during this holiday season at area malls and shopping centers to help deter criminal activity, but there's also things you can do as a shopper to prevent becoming a victim of theft.

Black Friday may be the perfect time to get an amazing offer but it's also the time you're more likely to get ripped off.

"Especially due to the financial strain in the economy and things along those lines, people are going to resort to more tactics in order to steal," said Tony Stevens, a criminal investigator with Bethlehem Township's police department.

Thieves are coming up with new ways to take advantage, especially online -- like selling already used gift cards and  "one day only bargain" e-mails where you could be lured into giving personal information that can be later used to access your accounts.

If you plan on shopping in person, Investigator Stevens says try to avoid using your bank card altogether.

"Should they access your card they could really deplete your checking or savings accounts depending on what you have. Whereas if you use the credit card, what will happen is once you're out of money, usually the credit card companies are excellent as far as taking care of the reimbursements and things along those lines," he said.

You also want to stick to a credit card if shopping online in case your account gets hacked.

And always, while shopping don't forget the golden rule: "The bottom line is if the deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is."

Experts also suggest using your credit card, especially on big ticket items.  Most credit card companies offer dispute rights if something goes wrong with your purchase, as well as warranties or even insurance in some cases.