If you're anything like me, these last few weeks of December can be quite busy with trying to complete things before the end of the year and doing final touches in preparation for the holidays...including shopping for gifts. Today I'm doing a national media tour with Scott Krugman, the Vice President of the National Retail Federation, and we are talking about online sales, promotions, shipping deadlines and tips for shopping safely online.

The NRF's online division, Shop.org, expects millions of people to complete their last minute holiday shopping for the season online. I personally like to shop online for numerous reasons: it can be very convenient, it's a time-saver, it's cost-effective because you can find good deals and it can prevent you from getting the painful "mall traffic" headache. Now that the holiday season is upon us, I feel it's the appropriate time to once again remind everyone to take a few minutes to make sure you protect your computer(s) and personal information while shopping online.

Here are five quick tips to help keep you safe as you shop online:

Tip 1: Use anti-virus and anti-phishing software and tools -- Install active and up-to-date reputable anti-virus software on all computers to detect and remove viruses and keyloggers that can steal your identity when using credit cards or banking online. Make sure to also install anti-phishing software to ensure you don't get tricked by these kinds of online scams. Some Internet Service Providers, like Comcast, provide free anti-virus software, like the Norton Security Suite, which updates itself automatically to address the latest online threats.

Tip 2: "S" means "secure" -- When shopping on the Web, be sure you see "HTTPS://" (the "S" stands for "secure") at the beginning of the URL for any site where you plan to enter financial information. Look for a lock or a similar icon in the browser indicating that you are connected to a secure site.

Tip 3: Secure your wireless network -- It's important to secure access to home or personal networks with a password to make sure that others cannot access any personal information by hopping on to your wireless network. Remember, strong passwords have eight or more characters that combine numbers, symbols and letters.

Tip 4: Be careful on what you click -- If you receive an unsolicited commercial e-mail, do not open any attached file whose name ends in ".exe." Clicking on such files could activate a virus that could infect your computer. In addition, don't click on links in e-mails for online retailers instead type the URL directly into your browser.

Tip 5: Above all, be skeptical -- If an online offer seems too good to be true, it could be a scam which is why you should shop from the online retailers that your trust.

For more Internet safety tips and resources, visit www.comcast.net/security.

Happy Holidays and shop safely!