You used to be able to tell a website was secure by seeing a green lock in the left side of address bar, but now scammers have figured out how to replicate that too.

Larry Burriss is a professor at MTSU and knows exactly how scammers are targeting you this holiday.

“You can make a site that looks real and legitimate...be it Kroger or FBI or MTSU they know how to design those.”

Scammers are also in disguise as charities this holiday season. They ask for money to help families affected by the California wildfires and recent tornadoes. Burriss says this is prime time for scammers.

“Right away the scammers are coming out and that’s just a time to be more alert.”

Their main target are elderly people, who Burriss says are more likely to pick up the phone or follow a donation link on their computer or smart device.

“They get a call from somebody that maybe wants to chit chat with them and many times they are unaware of the scams going on and will respond to those.”

If you click the link, it could download software to scan your computer for user ids and passwords. Sometimes, if you look at the website closely enough, you can catch a red flag

“Almost all of them will have misspellings or grammatical errors," Burriss says.

Some websites may also have a few minor design differences, but those are much harder to catch.

Experts say if you receive an email or phone call promoting a charity, call the Red Cross to see if it’s legit. For all other emails, avoid following links anywhere.

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Traffic Anchor/Reporter

Lindsey Nance joined the News4 team in June 2018. She currently covers the education beat for News4.

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