If you don’t need to “kick the tires” this holiday season, you might find yourself as one of the growing number of consumers shopping online.  Many online stores offer slashed prices, significant promotions, and free shipping during the holidays, even more so on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Most people are familiar with Black Friday; some even consider it a holiday, sporting event, or a significant cultural event in itself.  Although less known, Cyber Monday is the Monday following Black Friday and the official kick off for online holiday shopping. More and more consumers are skipping the crowds and using the convenience of their homes to find deals online on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  This has not gone unnoticed by retailers and many are offering unbelievable deals this holiday season.  If you are planning to act on the limited offer deals, plan to act early, you are competing with the global community, not just the hundred or so shoppers outside a retail store.

According to ComScore, a leading electronic market research firm, online sales have increased sharply over the past few years, despite the tough economic times and slower retail sales gains.  Last year ComScore reported online spending hit $534 million on Black Friday and $846 million on Cyber Monday.

We have all heard stories of fraud, scams, and identify theft online.  If you are planning to shop online this holiday season, here are some tips to shop safely.