BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Holiday shopping season in high gear.
Photo: Pixabay / MGN Online
And whether you plan to do that shopping online or in stores or a little bit of both, we turned to experts with advice on how to do it safely.
The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to total roughly seven hundred billion dollars this year - a more than four percent increase over last year.
Shopping at stores has its own threats but there are ways to protect yourself and your items.
Wade Betters of the Bangor Police Department says, "When you make a purchase, we really recommend that you take that out to your car and hide it the best you can preferably in the trunk, in a locked trunk."
And if you're buying from Craigslist or a Facebook swap and sell site -- always ask questions.
Betters says, "You might want to question where it came from, was it legitimately bought before it is being offered for sale."
Always be wary of items that claim to be new without tags or new without a box.
And when you meet to purchase Better says, "We always recommend that people go to public locations to make those transactions."
Most police departments offer their sites as an exchange location.
Most people like to avoid going anywhere for their shopping -- this year 83 percent of U.S. consumers plan to shop online for holiday gifts, according to a Coresight Research report.
Before you click the 'buy' button this season, there are some tips to help keep your information safe.
Matt Graham, UMaine Asst. Professor of Management Information Systems says, "Try to avoid sites that you don't know. Look for proof of any privacy or security policy. Any credible online retail site will have some policy on their webpage."
And to avoid hackers from getting access to your credit card information Graham says, "Make sure that they are going to websites, retail sites that have a secure browser. That means that their browser is going to begin with HTTPS."
And some of the simplest advice is just to keep an eye on your bank statements.
Graham says, "Make sure that you don't seen anything on there that's not supposed to be there. I think those are some of the best things you can do to protect yourself while shopping online."
The Better Business Bureau offers several tips for safe shopping online, to see a full list visit bbb.org.