One of the reasons the age old expression "if it's too good to be true, then it is" still lives on in society is because how often it rings true -- and not in a good way, certainly.

In 2020, many Christmas shoppers went to online shopping due to the pandemic and state restrictions in place, with in-person shopping still a reality.

Whether it was last year, has been in the past or is today, there are still cyber dangers and signs to look out for an even in person as well.

When you do your Christmas shopping over the next few days and weeks, be sure to keep your guard up and protect yourself and your finances from scams and fraud.

Monmouth County Commissioner Lillian Burry, liaison to the Monmouth County Division of Consumer Affairs, says you should be cautious regardless of whether you shop in-person or online.

"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is true," Burry tells Townsquare Media News.

For those who have grandchildren, Burry suggests proceeding with caution there as well and thinking smartly.

"People in the older generation have that tendency, particularly for their grandchildren, to insert cash in an envelope and think it's safe -- well, it isn't -- there are people dedicated to going through the mail and things of that nature, so I would say a check would probably be the best way to go about it," Burry said.

For anyone shopping online, be sure to make purchases from a secure website and enter in any credit card information just as securely to avoid anything fraudulent happening, Burry explains, and if it's safe and secure, you should have no issue for your own protection.

"There are a number of pitfalls, we know that, but on the other hand there are areas of security that you should be aware of and adhere to," Burry said. "So, keep good records when you're doing this type of thing and ordering, you should keep good information, it may help you if you need to contest something in the not too distant future."

If you're doing any shopping in-person, be sure to look around the customer service counter or register and read through any payment and return policies.

"The stores should post their return and exchange policies, preferably near the cash register," Burry said.

No matter how you choose to do your Christmas shopping, it's okay to have fun and enjoy yourself but just be sure to be cautious and protect yourself and your interests.

"It is a time of joy but also a time for you to be cautious and be aware of the pitfalls that consumer fraud can easily rest at your doorstep," Burry said.

While the chances for consumer fraud and scams are higher online, it's important to review any and all policies and take the necessary steps to avoid falling prey and becoming a victim.

When in doubt of what you're reading or seeing, ask for help and assistance.

"If you have questions and you have concerns, we have an incredible Monmouth County Consumer Affairs Department and if you have questions, you're certainly invited to call that division (at) 732-431-7900," Burry said. "I can assure you that they will handle your questions, your problems very expertly and they have quite a track record of accomplishments."

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