Monday, Nov. 26 Cyber Monday is without doubt, one of the biggest online shopping days in the year. Here are a few essential computer tips for consumers to help you shop safely online throughout the thanksgiving shopping spree as well as the coming holiday season:

Barricade your systems. Install anti-virus, anti-spyware software and most importantly a firewall. Be sure to check for and install the latest upgrades and run regular scans for virus and malware.

Shop on trustworthy websites. Double-check a website’s security settings before submitting financial data, such as credit card numbers and banking passwords. If the site is authentic and secure, the URL (web address) on the payment page should be prefixed with “https://.”

Too-good-to-be-true deals. Don’t fall for attractive or too hard to believe deals on unknown /spurious sites. If it’s too good to be true, then there’s very likely a catch. Holiday offers on most websites and in emails tend to display very low or even free prices on valuable items. There are definitely hidden costs in tow, or you may inadvertently sign up for a recurring charge. So always delve into the fine print.

Protect personal details. It’s always good to go through a site’s privacy policy in detail and be aware of the personal information being requested and the ways it will be used. Don’t ever enter such personal information on unsolicited emails. If a site does not have a privacy policy at all, it is a red flag that the host could very sell off your information without your permission.

Beware of phishing. Established and legitimate websites or businesses do not send out emails claiming issues with an order, payment, account or a delivery that requires the buyer into revealing financial information. Even if you receive such an email, it is recommended that you contact directly on phone the establishment where the purchase was made to confirm and resolve the issue.

Use credit cards. Under law, consumers can dispute the charges if you have not received an item. Consumers also have the right to dispute any unauthorized charges on the card. Many card issuers have zero-liability policies in place for the event if someone steals and uses your card number. Scrutinize your credit card statement regularly for any unauthorized charges or fees. Never ever transfer money from your account to someone you don’t know.

Save documentation. Keep a copy (or screenshot) of the confirmation page of an order or save emails that confirm the order until you have received the concerned item and are satisfied.

Track your Order. Keep an eye out for the tracking number of shipments. If you need the product before holidays or for a special occasion, find out the shipping details and when it will be delivered. The consignment or tracking number can help you in locating a lost order.

Be aware of your rights. Under federal law, orders made by online, mail or phone require to be shipped by the promised date or if no delivery time is stated – within 30 days. If the goods aren’t shipped on time, consumers can cancel the order and demand a refund. Consumers also have the right to reject merchandise that is defective or not according to specifications.

Follow the above tips to shop securely (and wisely!) during the upcoming holidays and enjoy the festive season with your new gifts and purchases!