SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) — With the holidays around the corner, leaders at the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs are sharing tips so shoppers can avoid becoming a victim of scams.

In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission reported more than 2.8 million fraud reports. Online shopping was one of the top categories reported, with consumers losing nearly $400 million.

“If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is,” said Carri Crube Lybarker, a SCDCA administrator and consumer advocate.

For people who plan to shop online, she encourages people to be wary of great deals. Lybarker said scammers draw shoppers in with low prices, then try to steal their personal information. She said people can look for red flags like spelling errors and requests for strange payment methods like cryptocurrency or wire transfers. Scammers may also target people through fake emails or text messages, asking them to use a link to verify a delivery date or payment.

“The kicker is when you kick on that particular link, it may open up a website that asks you to enter personal information, they may install malware onto your computer or your phone,” said Lybarker.

She also said when people place a legitimate order, be specific in delivery instructions.

“If you’re expecting a package, we encourage you to require a signature for delivery or if you can have the package deliver to your office or another location,” said Lybarker.

She said it can help prevent thieves from taking a package from peoples home or doorstep.

While this time of year is know as the season of giving, Lybarker said for scammers, it’s an opportunity to take advantage. She said people should be mindful of potential fake charities and always ask for information about where a donation will go and use a legitimate form of payment.

“Most of those charities are going to ask for payments like check, credit card payments, and you want those kinds of payments so if it’s tax deductible you have that receipt for that,” said Lybarker.

Consumer advocates said people should regularly monitor bank statements for potential fraud. They also said if people can pay with a credit card, it could add a layer of security, and prevent scammers from finding personal banking information.

For people who think they may be a victim of a holiday scam, they can file a report. People can head to the Department of Consumer Affairs’ website at consumer.sc.gov or call 800-922-1594.