Cyber scams are on the rise in El Paso -- and with the explosion of Internet shopping this time of year, the Better Business Bureau is offering some simple tips for preventing online crime.
Local FBI said that reported scams are already up about 20 percent this year, and we're not even through the busiest shopping season. Every year cyber crime costs El Pasoans hundreds of thousands of dollars -- and less than 10 percent of all crimes are reported.
The bureau recommends researching the retailer at its website before pulling the trigger.
If you're too lazy to do that, look at the site's "http://" URL prefix -- "https://" stands for "secure," and will keep you from looking S-T-U-P-I-D.
Here's a funky one: Pay with a credit card -- that way you'll have a record of the purchase.
Bite the bullet and tuck the receipt into the gift box. We've all given a few errands for Christmas -- no shame in that.
And for the love of the nativity scene, compare prices. "Bargains" and "markdowns" might initially smell like frankincense, but in the end, you were sniffin' a wise man's sandals.
"We don't take into consideration too much of the safety," said shopper Jaime Parra. "We actually look at more of the pricing."
"We pretty much go with whatever my wife goes," said shopper Eugene Ortega. "Whatever she likes."
"That's a ballpark I want to stay at," Parra said. "I don't want to go above $700 for the five of us. I have really young girls."
The average consumer spends about $740 on holiday gifts and decor, according to the National Retail Federation. Make a budget and stick to it.