Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but the Christmas shopping season is just beginning.  For the first time in history, sales are expected to top $1 trillion in 2017, an increase of about 3% over last year.  In a new study, American Research Group discovered that the average shopper is planning to spend $983 this holiday season, an increase of $54 over 2016.

More and more Christmas shopping is moving online, and this past Black Friday online sales boomed.  Shoppers spent over $5 billion in 24 hours making it the biggest day in online shopping ever.  Cyber Monday is expected to top that with over $6 billion in sales forecast for yesterday's buying fiesta.

But where there's money, there's always a scam, and the internet is rife with come-ons and false promises.  Here are the Top 3 according to the AARP:

  1. Package theft--An estimated 23 million packages are stolen from front doorsteps around the country each year.  When having packages delivered, make sure they require a signature by the recipient or consider having them delivered to the recipient's workplace.  Amazon offers lockers in some cities to which it will send packages which can be retrieved using a pickup code.
  2. Fake shopping sites and apps--Two out of three retailers don't have a shopping app, which provides ample opportunity for scammers to develop fake ones.  Experts advise that before you download a shopping app that you first check the retailer's web site which will lead you to the proper place to download their app. To check out a web site's veracity, go to which will give you an e-mail associated with the page and where it's located.  If it looks suspicious, stay away from the site.
  3. Survey swindles--These come-ons tell you that you can win a gift card from a well-known retailer just for taking a survey.  When you click on the bogus survey link you automatically download destructive malware that can steal your identity.  Experts say that before clicking any suspicious link, hover over it and make sure the name of the retailer is immediately before the .com in the URL address.  If it's not, avoid clicking on the site.

Online shopping has made the Christmas rush much less stressful, but scammers can make the holiday season a nightmare.  The important thing to remember is that many things on the web are not what they seem.  A little caution can go a long way to ensuring you and yours have a Merry Christmas.