NEW YORK (MainStreet) – E-books have become increasingly popular during the past few years  since they offer a cheaper alternative to hardcovers and also save the time it takes to travel to a book store.

But the digital nature of these tomes also offers the opportunity for scammers to capitalize on a growing industry.

According to the Better Business Bureau, consumers should be on the lookout for several different e-book scams that have cropped up this holiday shopping season. These include:

  • The marketing of cheap e-books filled with useless and often badly written information that also contain malware designed to obtain your credit card information.
  • Writing competitions that require small entry fees under the guise that the winners’ work will be published digitally.
  • Spam emails or ads sent to e-readers that also contain malware designed to load viruses onto the machine.

To avoid falling prey to these and other e-book scams, the BBB suggests only ordering e-books from secure sites (the site’s URL should begin with https://). The bureau also recommends purchasing books from authors with established reputations or from sites that are registered with the BBB. Also remember never to pay for e-books available elsewhere for free.

“Don't be taken in by great reviews that accompany cheap e-books,” the BBB wrote in a blog post. “[The reviews] may be genuine or the writers may have been paid to produce them.”

The BBB is urging consumers who believe they were scammed to request a refund and register a complaint with the seller’s customer service department. You can find a few more tips for how to avoid e-book scams on the BBB website.