KANSAS CITY, Mo. — During the three days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, the National Retail Federation expected 164 million U.S. consumers shop in some way, shape or form.
With every swipe of a credit or debit card, all those people also risk having personal information stolen by identity thieves, but experts said there are some things consumers can do to protect sensitive information.
When you are shopping online, use only trusted vendors.
"I would say absolutely use secure networks," said Frankie Bellucci, a smart technology expert.
Bellucci also said it’s important to double check that you have the correct website when shopping online, because some hackers have scam websites that look similar to the big retail stores’ websites.
"Look out for fake ads,” Bellucci said. “I have a lot of clients that come to me and may have clicked on something that infected their machine.”
When it comes to paying for items, Bellucci said, "Choose cash over credit and debit.”
That may be the toughest adjustment for shoppers.
"I usually use my debit card or my Discover card," said Robin Silverman, who was shopping in Brookside on Small Business Saturday.
Some people said cash can be a hassle.
"I usually use my credit card," said Debbie Prior, who was shopping with her daughter in Brookside. “I'm not organized enough to get cash ahead of time.”
Still, experts said it’s the safest option, “because there is less opportunity for someone to drop a card or get data stolen from a credit card," Bellucci said.
Shoppers also should keep a close eye on all statements and bank account records.
"I look at my Discover statement and make sure there is nothing on there that I didn't buy and my debit card I immediately record," Silverman said.
The last piece of advice is simply to be mindful and careful when shopping in public.
"Slow down and pay attention,” Bellucci said. “Don't drop your wallet, keep your wallet in your front pocket, keep your purse closed. People are snatching things out of people hands and bags and pockets.”