NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — This is the most profitable time of year for cyber thieves looking to cash in on unsuspecting deal seekers.

With Black Friday sales already starting Wednesday night, CBS2’s Jessica Layton had some advice on protecting your identity during your holiday shopping.

Some shoppers had not even cooked their turkeys yet Wednesday night, but they were already talking about those Black Friday deals.

“Designer bags and jackets,” one shopper said.

“Probably a new cellphone because I know they’re on sale,” another said.

When asked if she was concerned about her personal information being stolen, the shopper said, “No, I am not.”

Hearing that might be a holiday hacker’s dream.

“It’s even easier now than ever for hackers to be able to get access to your information,” said Fitech chief executive officer Ian Marlow.

Marlow, a cybersecurity expert, said if you are shopping online at home, the first thing you must do is to make sure you are using a secure sight.

“Make sure when you get to the shopping cart you see https — that little S stands for the word ‘secure,’” Marlow said. “If it’s not there, don’t trust it.”

Also, Marlow advised that you beware of suspicious emails that look like they are coming from stores or friends that pretend to rave about a great product.

“Easy trick — put your mouse over the email address. Hover it over — it will tell you if it’s a real address or a fake address,” he said.

Marlow also says you should limit where you shop online to only a couple of stores, and try to do the purchases all at once. The more you place an order, the higher potential for problems.

Further, watch out for fake retail apps – and remember, thieves are not just online. They could be lurking behind you online, spying on your smartphone.

“We have tempered glass you can buy for your phone called security glass — people behind you will not able to read it,” Marlow said.

Indeed, for every shopper looking for steals at the store, there are always thieves just as eager to steal your identity.


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