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updated 4/22/2011 10:18:44 PM ET 2011-04-23T02:18:44

Whether you're browsing the Web looking for dinner recipes or scouting out last-minute deals on travel sites, it's important to take extra precaution on the Internet this weekend, because cybercriminals are planning to make Easter a big business holiday.

Just like Valentine's Day, Christmas and New Year's, Easter is sure to bring with it quality family time, hearty meals and a large heaping of online scams.

On Thanksgiving, tons of phony online coupons found their way into email inboxes, offering amazing deals on everything from food and books to the newest gadgets. Of course, the deals were fake, and clicking on them took users to fraudulent websites that asked for personal information such as credit card numbers.

While Easter will be no different, here's what you can do to stay safe and not get stung by a scam.

Avoid unsolicited emails. A tried-and-true cybercriminal trick is to promise deals that are too good to be true. And guess what? They always are. Be extremely wary if you receive coupons via email. There's a good chance they won't get you anything but trouble.

Be careful what you search for. Poisoned SEO is the tactic of tricking search engines into ranking fraudulent, malicious websites at the top of their rankings. Any time there's a big event or holiday, Internet thieves create dozens of corrupt Web pages tied to popular search terms. (Think: "Easter ham recipe" or "Easter egg hunt.")

Before you mistakenly click on one of these harmful sites, make sure the website address checks out. Often, criminals will create websites that look correct but contain one tiny typo, a tactic called " typosquatting."

Lastly, watch out when you open your wallet this Easter. Online criminals are crafty, and don't play by moral guidelines, often creating fake donation websites in the hopes of taking advantage of your charitable spirit. It happened after last month's tsunami in Japan, and it's bound to happen this Easter.

To avoid giving your money to a fraudster, follow the previous safety steps: make sure the website URL is legitimate, don't accept an unsolicited request for money -- especially one from Facebook or Twitter -- and never give out information such as your PIN code, phone number, license number or date of birth. None of that information is required by legitimate charity sites like the Red Cross.

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