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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -
Most of you are busy Christmas shopping and you're probably making at least a few purchases online.
Just in the last few days, fraudulent credit card activity has increased dramatically.
Heritage Bank of the South is telling their customers to forgo their debit cards and use credit cards this holiday season instead.
Online Holiday sales are expected to top $43 billion dollars that is up 17 percent from last year.
And with all that money being spent online, it is important to know how to protect yourself from fraud.
Many consumers prefer to shop online. It is a convenient way to avoid the massive crowds during the holidays.
"You don't leave the comfort of your house, there are no crying babies, or annoying store clerks, you are sitting there in your pajamas and you are shopping, it is awesome," said Ann Martin, Shopper.
This time of year fraudulent debit card activity skyrockets, and banks want you to be safe when you shop, especially when you buy online.
"With your credit card, if you are hacked online, that person that is hacking you, does not have access to your complete checking account, so they can't wipe you out in one swoop, the main thing is that is safer," said Martin.
Ann Martin and Bobby Mulkey are busy shopping for the holidays and say they always use their credit cards over their debit cards.
"I have protection that card, and if it lost or stolen, I am not left holding a high bill," said Mary Beth Hobby, Heritage Bank of the South VP, Marketing Dir.
"I just feel it is safer to use a credit card, I am a little bit worried about that debit card, a lot of scams going on out there now," said Bobby Mulkey, Shopper.
Often, those cyber shoppers are purchasing items they've already checked out at physical retailers.
It's a phenomenon known as 'showrooming" that threatens traditional brick and mortar stores.
"You will go out to your local stores, you will kind of test drive the products, you will see what they are and then you will go home and shop online to buy it," said Martin.
48,000,000 shoppers will showroom this holiday that is up 134 percent since last year.
If you are going to use your debit card for holiday shopping in stores, make sure to use your PIN so the bank knows it is you who is using your card.
Federal laws differ for debit and credit cards. Debit card users have a limited time to report an unauthorized use, otherwise they could be liable for a portion or all of the charge.