Cyber Monday do's and don'ts

Experts estimate Monday will be the biggest online shopping day of the year for the third straight time and Cyber Monday deals abound.

The research firm comScore estimates that Americans will spend $1.5 billion today, up 20 percent from last year.

Amanda Nicholson is a Professor of Retail Practice for the Whitman School at Syracuse University. She says just as Black Friday deals debuted closer to your Thanksgiving feast, we started seeing Cyber Monday deals over the weekend.

"They actually started on cyber sunday. It should be called that now because everything was out yesterday. So they'll put a limited quantity of something up for a short amount of time. And that may be all they have," says Nicholson.

Nicholson also warns it's not a deal unless you're getting free shipping.

"At this point, free shipping has become sort of standard. Over 90% of retailers are offering free shipping between Cyber Monday and Christmas Eve. So at this point, don't be part of the 10%," says Nicholson., which started Cyber Monday deals at midnight, is offering as much as 60 percent off a Panasonic VIERA 55-inch TV that's usually over $1,000. Sears is offering $430 off a Maytag washer and dryer, each on sale for $399. And Kmart is taking 75 percent off all diamond earrings.

Be aware, while you hunt for bargains, identity thieves are hunting you. To protect yourself, use a credit card instead of your debit card and check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure it's a legitimate online business.

You also want to make sure the website you're using is secure. You can check on that by making sure there is an https prefix associated with the web address. That "s" means the website and the web server are both authentic and secure.

(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)