There was a time when the hardest part of making sure your holidays were safe and secure meant finding a good hiding spot for the presents. Nowadays with so much shopping done online, there is more effort required.

Though Cyber Monday has already passed, there is still more online shopping to be done as people across the country find it more convenient and easier to click away on their smartphones, tablets and laptops. There is no doubt about it — the web is playing a major role in the holiday shopping season.

According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 52 percent of gift-givers will shop online. But there are steps that should be taken in order for it to be done safely. The Internet Crime Complaint Center, a joint initiative of the FBI and National White Collar Crime Center, offers the following tips:

First things first: update your software. You should make sure that all firewall software, virus protections, etc. are up to date.

As always, be a cautious shopper. If an online deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers will offer you deals in an effort to get you to provide your personal and financial information. Legitimate sites will, obviously, need your credit card number and address, but they certainly have no need for your Social Security number or driver’s license number.

When shopping, avoid websites that don’t have a URL that starts with “https.” That “s” indicates secure and means the merchant has security software in place.

Online shoppers should use a credit card rather than a debit card as this offers a bit more protection.

If you are unfamiliar with a merchant, check resources like the Better Business Bureau. Read reviews that other customers write about the merchants.

Also, you should make sure you are careful when using public networks or Wi-Fi hotspots as they may be easier to access for hackers. Stick to trusted networks that you know are secure.

Keep an eye on your credit, and check your credit report at least once during and once after the holiday season. The higher volume of shopping being done during the holiday season increases the targets of identity thieves.

There are lots of bargains to be found online but make sure you take steps to protect yourself from the Grinches looking to steal your identity.

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