(CBS) — You may be in a shopping mood or a giving mood this time of the year. And the crooks are definitely in a stealing mood.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker shows you how to avoid being scammed over the holidays.

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The Salvation Army is a legitimate charity, but others may not be.

Before you give, experts say, do some research.

“Often they may be sound-a-like charities,” says Terri Worman, associate state director of advocacy and outreach for AARP.

The charity should be registered in Illinois. And check how much of your donation goes to the cause.

Not thoroughly checking out charities is just one of several questions seven out of 10 people missed, according to a new AARP survey on holiday scams.

Gift cards are an easy-to-get gift. But experts say the cards are vulnerable if they come from a kiosk. Crooks can steal the number and then wait for it to be activated.

Always look for signs of tampering on the back.  Check whether the PIN number has been scratched off, or buy the gift card directly from the store’s website.

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Ever see a great deal on social media like a “secret sister” gift exchange or a suspicious voucher in an email?

Steve Bernas with Chicago’s Better Business Bureau warns what could happen when you click on that link.

“Sometimes they’re going to a site that just has malware on it or spam,” he says.

Also beware of doing your banking or buying gifts over public wi-fi, even on an “https” secured website.

“You want one that is password-protected. If you go unprotected you don’t know whose wi-fi that is,” Bernas says.

And if gifts are sent to your home, require a delivery signature.

You can also have packages shipped to a FedEx or UPS store. And your homeowners’ insurance may cover stolen packages; check with your insurer.

To research the backgrounds of charitable organizations, try Charity Watch and Charity Navigator.

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