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Avoid cyber Grinches: How to spot a deal from a steal on Cyber Monday

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Shoppers have Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and the last chance to get a jump on their holiday shopping, Cyber Monday.

Over the last few years Cyber Monday has grown in popularity among shoppers looking to score the best deals.

But cyber grinches are also looking to get a piece of the holiday action.

Now the Better Business Bureau has a few suggestions for bargain hunters looking to take advantage of Cyber Monday offers Dec. 2.

BBB officials suggest following these simple steps to help ensure successful transactions and avoid becoming victims of fraud:

1. Protect your computer. A computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.

2. Stick to trustworthy websites. Check on the seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction at Look for the BBB seal and other widely recognized “trust marks” on retailer websites. Always remember to click on the seals to confirm that they are valid.

3. Protect your personal information. Take the time to read the privacy policy of websites you visit and understand what personal information is being collected and how it will be used. If you don’t see one posted, be aware your information may be sold to others without your permission.

4. Beware of deals that sound too good to be true. Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails can often sound too good to be true, especially ones offering extremely low prices. When visiting a website, look for misspellings and grammatical errors, as these are signs the site might be fraudulent. Trust your instincts. Don’t be afraid to pass up “deals” that might cost you money instead of saving you money.

5. Beware of phishing. Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. If a consumer receives such an email, the BBB recommends picking up the phone and calling the retailer you dealt with or your credit card provider to confirm there really is a problem with the transaction.