Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, can be an enticing option for holiday shoppers seeking to avoid the crowds, but the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be extra careful when seeking deals.

According to a preliminary survey conducted for the National Retail Federation by BIGresearch, up to 152 million people plan to shop Black Friday weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). With those numbers, shopping from home can be an enticing avenue. However, this option is also appealing to identity thieves and scammers.  

“Online shopping typically generates many complaints logged with the BBB,” said Gary Almond, president of BBB serving Northeast California. “Take the necessary precautions to avoid fraudulent websites, scammers and other Grinches who would love to ruin your holidays.”

BBB recommends the following tips for shopping online this holiday season to help fight unscrupulous retailers, scammers and hackers: 1. Protect your computer – Always have the most recent updates installed for anti-spyware software.

2. Shop on trustworthy websites – Shoppers should start at www.bbb.org to check on the seller’s record for customer satisfaction or run a search engine check for reviews of a business.

3. Protect your personal information – Read the site’s privacy policy and understand how personal information will be used. If there isn’t one posted, be wary that personal information may be sold to others without permission.

4. Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – Watch for extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Consumers should pass up “deals” that may cost them in the end.

5. Confirm your online purchase is secure – Always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, right-click and select “Properties.” This will reveal if the site is not encrypted.

6. Pay with a credit card –You can dispute the charges if you don’t receive the item. Dispute rights also exist if there are unauthorized charges. When shopping on classifieds web sites, never wire money and only buy if you can see the item before paying.

7. Keep documentation of your order – Save a screen shot of all confirmation pages, print out receipts and save confirmation emails.

8. Check your credit card statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements; check credit card statements for suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or looking at statements online regularly.

9. Know your rights – Federal law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren’t shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. Be familiar with company policies on returns before purchasing.

For more advice and to see reports on thousands of online retailers, go to  www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-holiday/