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How to protect your personal information while finding Cyber Monday deals

Many people are preparing to cash in some good deals but experts warn of the digital danger if you aren't careful.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — People will be grabbing holiday gifts on Cyber Monday, expecting to cash in on some discounts and specials for the holiday season.

But security analyst Stewart Davis explains that cybercriminals are going to be working hard as well.

Davis said the first thing everyone should know is cybercriminals are looking for personal information over anything. Once they have access to your name, social security, debit and credit cards, and address, they have all the information they really need from you.

"Always, always, always using a secure internet connection," Davis said.

She said to stick with internet connections with passwords rather than using open, unprotected networks like those sometimes available at restaurants or drive-thrus. She explained that unsecured networks could potentially put your information out in the open.

"It's like your at malfunction junction screaming your information," Davis said.

Another method cybercriminals have started using is called spoofing. Davis said it's a method where they take a well-known brand and make some minor changes to it. 

"They would either send an email or perhaps put a post on social media that looks really, really, really similar," she said. "To say, like, a target ad you would get on Instagram, to, like, a jewelry company or something like that." 

She said it could be anything from putting an ad up on a social media site that looks similar to another site you are familiar with or if the ad is targeted with your name on it. 

Davis said they will even change the font to fit as much as possible with the original. She said that one thing to keep an eye on is the hyperlink, checking to see if it has a misspelling, whether changes letters for symbols from the real site or brand, or if it has HTTP at the beginning. 

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Davis also wants shoppers to take some time looking over the emails before they click on one to purchase a product. 

"You know, not getting caught up in the moment of the big, exciting sale, but taking just that extra eight or 10 seconds and thinking, 'Is this an email address that I'm comfortable with?'" she added.

Lastly, she warned shoppers not to use their work computers to shop. Most people will be returning to work from the holiday weekend. 

"Depending on the safety parameters that your company is beholden to, they may not be liable in any shape or form for any criminal activity you run into, even though it's their hardware and connection," Davis said.

RELATED: Yes, Cyber Monday got its start because people shopped online at work

Stewart advised going directly to the website of the brand or company you are shopping for instead of clicking on the advertisement. 

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