Whether you start your holiday shopping on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or right now, here are three tips to help you avoid scams and fraudulent websites when you buy gifts online.

This is part one in a three part series. Read part two and part three. And if we missed something, let us know in our comments section below.

Use an updated web browser. Check your browser to see if it provides the protection you need. Internet Explorer 9  is the newest version of the Microsoft web browser. It helps protect you when you shop online. Download Internet Explorer 9 now.

More information about Internet Explorer 9.

Use a secure website. When you enter your credit card, look for signs that the webpage is secure—a web address with https and a closed padlock beside it are good indications that the webpage is secure.

More information about secure websites.

Choose strong passwords. If you store your information at an online shopping site, make sure to choose a strong password that uses eight or more characters.

More information about strong passwords.

Get more tips on how to shop online more safely.