"If they don't provide an address or a working phone number that's an automatic red flag that it could be an illegitimate business," she continued.
That's why it's recommended you deal with companies you know and trust.
Go to the official Web site instead of responding to random e-mails and links and make sure when giving any personal information it's a secure "encrypted" site-- look for a closed lock in your browser.
Shoppers should also look over the privacy and return policies, and before making any deals, check with the BBB to make sure what appears to be a reliable business isn't already facing complaints.
"Protect your identity," says Detective Sgt. Ron Tidler.
"It's the same whether it's shopping or whether it's going online," he says.
The APD Cyber Crime unit recommends the IC3 Web site.
"What they have here is Internet crime prevention tips," Tidler said.
APD sees the fallout when consumers aren't careful during or after the transaction
"One of the No. 1 ways to protect yourself is if you're using a credit card a lot, reconcile that credit card statement monthly," Tidler said.
"If your credit card statement comes through mail and you're not getting it might be an indication that someone is accessing your mailbox and taking your mail away so you don't see that," Tidler said.
If shoppers heed the warnings, Tidler says shopping in cyberspace can actually be a safer alternative.
"Statistically, using the Internet with secured sites for purchases tends to be a more safe way of conducting a transaction than it does going person-to-person with a check," he said.
"Eighty percent or more of identity theft is through the use of personal checks. The other percentage could probably be taken when there's a human factor involved during a credit card transaction," he said.
Whether you take to the stores or venture into cyber space, these tips can help you protect yourself through every transaction so you don't get an unpleasant surprise this holiday season.
Charitable giving fraud is also on the rise during the holidays when consumers are in the giving spirit.
Contact the organization personally or on its official Web site before giving.
Contact Maria Downey at firstname.lastname@example.org