There is a very big part of me that truly believes online shopping was created in heaven for busy parents.

I mean, what is not to love? No carpark wars, ridiculous register queues or sweaty scrambles to secure that ‘must have’ Xbox game. It really is the best Christmas present ever!

And it seems more and more of us are embracing online shopping with research commissioned by McAfee showing that 60% of Aussies are planning to purchase gifts online this Christmas – double that of 2011!

Unfortunately, this great flurry of online activity provides cybercriminals with the perfect opportunity to try and destroy the Christmas spirit. To make sure you don’t become a victim of an online scam this Christmas, I am going to share with you the top 12 scams you need to avoid this silly season.

1. Social media scams – Avoid ‘special deals’ that come from your friends advertising the latest gifts or holiday deal on sites such as Facebook and Twitter – it could be the work of a hacker! Also avoid clicking on links for special discounts – these might be malicious.

2. Malicious mobile apps – Avoid downloading a malicious app that could steal your personal information. Only download from a trusted source.

3. Travel scams – Make sure you are not booking your holiday on a phony travel webpage designed only to get your financial details.

4. Holiday spam/phishing – Spam emails are also seasonal – they will soon take on a festive holiday theme. Remember never to respond to a spam email, or click on an included link.

5. iPhone 5 and iPad Mini scams – These hot gifts will be used in dangerous links, phony contests and phishing emails as a way to grab your attention to share your personal information or click on a dangerous link.

6. Skype message scare – Be aware of a new Skype message scam that attempts to infect machines and even hold files for ransom. Remember never to click on a suspicious link, even if it appears to come from someone you know.

7. Bogus Gift Cards – Be wary of buying online gift cards from third parties; it’s best to buy from the official retailer. They may be fake!

8. Holiday SMishing – Phishing via text message. Just like with email phishing, this is where a scammer tries to lure you into revealing information or performing an action you normally wouldn’t do by pretending to be a legitimate organisation. Delete!

9. Phony E-tailers – Phony e-commerce sites designed to try and extract your personal financial information.

10. Fake Charities – these scams happen every year when the bad guys hope to take advantage of our generosity by sending spam emails advertising fake charities. McAfee recommends that if you want to give, it’s always safer to visit the charity’s legitimate website, and do a little research about the charity before you donate.

11. Dangerous E-Cards – Some can be malicious and contain viruses that download onto your computer once you click on the link to view the greeting. So beware and check to see that the sender is someone you actually know, and that there are no misspellings or other clues that the card is a fake.

12. Phony Classifieds – Beware of phony offers that ask for personal information or money.

Now, I know the list can seem a little overwhelming. But I promise, you can shop online safely this Christmas. I think something important to remember in the online world just as we do in the offline world is – if an offer sounds too good to be true – it usually is!