06/17/2012 03:46 pm ET Updated Aug 17, 2012

Keeping Dad Happy and Your Wallet Safe

Father's Day has rapidly approached. This means we expect great celebrations, barbeques and great gifts. Many of us have hunted for the best gifts for dad online looking for everything from gadgets to clothes. Unfortunately, gift-giving holidays like Father's Day also tend to bring out fraudsters and online scammers.

There are thousands of places to find great gifts for dad online and it can be easy to find a great gift on the wrong site. As we have reported in other blogs about online shopping, carefully choosing sites and methods of transactions can help you ensure that you stay safe and secure online. Helping all of us, the Better Business Bureau is providing tips on safer shopping that are worth looking at.

According to the annual report on crime and crime statistics by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), Americans lost about $485 million last year to scams perpetrated online. Two of the top five crimes reported are connected to shopping online: advanced payment scams and non-delivery of auction items. An advanced payment scam is when someone pays in advance for an item or service but does not receive anything of value in return. A non-delivery scam is when a consumer purchases something from a site like eBay and does not actually receive the item.

As consumers, we are responsible for making good choices online, but businesses are also responsible for keeping their sites safe. As I wrote in a piece for The Huffington Post last year, there are a number of steps that businesses can take to make sure their sites are secure. Check to see if the company you are doing business with is doing some of these things.

And here are some tips for you to shop safely:

  • Check addresses carefully. Scammers can fake URLs and web addresses so that they mimic legitimate sites. Check and double check that the URLs are legitimate.
  • Check with the BBB. Run a search for the website you're thinking of using on The Better Business Bureau's website to see if the site is known for shady business practices.
  • Consider using payment protection: Using services like PayPal can help keep your information and money secure.
  • Research and use online security tools and services. Some of them are free -- a good example is BillGuard, which scans your credit card bills for questionable charges.
  • Do your research. Most scams are talked about on the Internet somewhere. Check out sites and services that track scams like Snopes and
  • Go with your gut. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Happy holiday shopping!

For more info on online safety, security, and privacy, check back here every week or visit my website.