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The bot that stole Christmas

Consumer Reports says computer bots can be used to scoop up popular items. (CRTV)

Many parents know that feeling of dread when you can’t get your hands on the hot toy of the holiday season. But what you might not realize is that it’s not just high demand that’s making these items scarce -- it’s actually hi-tech, high-speed software robots that snatch up the sought after toys before you can get them in your cart. Once they buy up as many as they can, they turn around and sell them on the secondary market at a premium.

Scalpers have used this technology for years to snatch up tickets to concerts or sporting events. The BOTS Act -- or Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016 -- tried to end to that practice but the law only applies to tickets, leaving scalpers to move on to things like toys or sneakers. It's not illegal, but many feel that bot users should go on the naughty list.

How do you get the must-have toy without getting played? Bree Fowler of Consumer Reports says you won’t beat the bots, so try to get ahead of the trend. When there are pre-orders for things like the Nintendo systems, you can get online and try your best. It also pays to shop early. Get in before the hype.

CR also recommends finding out what the actual retail price is so that you aren’t gouged by a reseller.

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