NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) ’Tis the season to start shopping, but consumers need to think about safety before charging to the mall or over to their favorite website.

As CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, the bustle of holiday shopping is full of distractions, and enticements for those up to no good.

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Shopping bags from high-end stores speak volumes about what kind of money a shopper just spent. That advertising draws the wrong kind of attention, according to security expert Bill Stanton.

“You think it can’t happen to you,” he said. “This is exactly where it does happen — the streets of New York.”

The crowds, the sales and the holiday decorations all provide a distraction.

“The bad guys are not window shopping. They’re shopping — bag shopping,” Stanton said. “They’re looking at your bag and judging whether they want to take you down.”

Perhaps the biggest distraction is our cellphones. Stanton pointed out that shopper after shopper is distracted by their digital device.

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“Look at this guy right here,” Stanton said as he pointed out one man walking down the street. “He is so engrossed in his phone, he doesn’t even know that the camera’s on him.”

Thieves can also strike online. A new scam targets shoppers, luring users to a third-party website where they are asked to buy Amazon gift cards to pay for items.

“On that email, it’ll say, ‘Send a redemption code,’ and then they’ll activate that card,” Stanton said. “Well guess what — it activates your account for their benefit.”

The scammer cashes in on the gift card, and you never get your purchase.

The online retail giant said: “Amazon Gift Cards should only be used to make a purchase on Amazon.com. Customers should never send Amazon Gift Cards directly to someone in exchange for a product or service.”

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Consumers are also reminded that if they do plan to take pictures and admire the window displays, they should make sure no one is admiring their purse or wallet.