In just a few short days, the Christmas shopping season officially kicks off with the madness that is Black Friday before moving online with Cyber Monday.

‘Tis the time for deals, but biting on the wrong one can turn the calendar from Cyber Monday to Ticked Off Tuesday.

Christmas shoppers are the perfect victims for scammers, and as commerce has shifted online so have their deceptive tactics, but there are ways to stay safe this holiday season – just follow these Christmas shopping safety tips from your friends at ThrottleNet.

Make Sure You’re Buying from a site with an SSL

A secure socket layer is standard security technology common in ecommerce that establishes an encrypted link between a web server and browser. What this basically means is that the personal information you pass along to an online retailer including your credit card information isn’t just sitting there on a vulnerable server and you can trust your data won’t fall into anyone’s hands following your transaction.

How to find out if a site uses an SSL

SSL is indicated by https:// in the url rather than http. Sometimes, an entire site is protected by an SSL, but you will see with many retailers that the SSL is actually only used within the shopping cart and/or checkout process. As a consumer, that’s the only part of a website you should really be concerned with. An SSL will be indicated by https:// as well as a lock and the color green signifying the url is safe.

Trust Signals in eCommerce take on many different forms. When you see a site is Norton Secured or TRUSTe certified, you can be assured that you’re dealing with a legitimate vendor. Seeing recognizable names like PayPal and links to a brand’s Better Business Bureau page also go a long way in developing trust with a business you’ve never heard of before. Another thing to look for are reviews when dealing with a brand you haven’t purchased from before. is a good place to find out if a website is safe to buy from, as it enables you to search stores by name or view a list of the best and worst rated merchants out there. Generally, this will give you a good idea as to what other people just like you have experienced with a merchant online. Also, check with the BBB to ensure the company is in good standing.

Use Your Gut & Don’t Buy from Companies You’ve Never Heard of!

Some things are too good to be true, and while there are certainly great deals to be had this holiday season a $500 designer handbag for $30 is probably not one of them.

Lean on trusted retailers who have developed a reputation in the industry. Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, WayFair, Fanatics, JCPenny, Gap, Home Depot, & Lowes are all examples of ecommerce leaders you have heard of who won’t screw you over. There are thousands more just like them. Joe Locker’s Discount Jerseys may have incredible pricing, but their site just launched two months ago, they don’t have an SSL and you can’t figure out how to contact them on their website. Those are all huge red flags.

Bonus Christmas Shopping Safety Tips to Keep in Mind:

Always Use a Credit Card – Not a Debit Card

When making purchases online always use your credit card over a debit card – and pay it off immediately if you can.

The reason for this is that credit card issuers often provide extra levels of protection if you need to dispute a transaction. A typical checking account doesn’t over the same level of fraud protection as a credit card does.

Don’t Save Banking Information in an Account Online

It’s easy to store your credit card information in Amazon or StubHub for convenience but all someone needs to gain access to your account numbers is your password – which may be the same password you use for Facebook. Use a unique password for each of your online accounts and never store payment information. Take the extra 30 seconds and manually enter in your card numbers when you return to make a second transaction.

Update Your Browser, Operating System & Ensure Anti-Virus is up-to-date

It’s always best to be safe rather than sorry in regard to malware and spyware, which can easily compromise your card numbers and other personal information. Scheduling and completing updates as well as utilizing antivirus software are easy defensive measures you can use when shopping online.