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Christmas Holiday Shopping Online

Christmas is just around the corner and many people are turning to the internet for their Christmas Holiday Shopping to save time, money, gas, and avoid the crowds. Can a good deal really be found online? Is it safe to purchase online? Where are the best places to shop online? Keep reading for some tips to make your holiday shopping online a little easier.

Great deals on the net…

Can a good deal be found online? Most definitely yes! Most large retailers have an online store and many run internet only specials, that translates into savings for you. Many stores are only found online as the cost to run an online store is less expensive than a brick and mortar store. Since these stores don’t have the high overhead they can provide some great deals that will only be found online. Price isn’t the only factor to consider when shopping for an item though. When searching for that special gift you will have a greater selection online and you won’t have to travel or beat the crowds. Instead of the local mall you can shop the world, all from the comfort of your own home. You are bound to find unique gifts online!

Shopping online is not only convenient it is safe when you follow a few simple rules.

5 Tips to Keep in Mind When Doing Your Christmas Holiday Shopping Online

1). Comparison shopping is a must, just like in regular stores. Don’t just think you are getting a good deal – know you are!

2). Know the shipping and handling costs before you make your purchase. Some stores may offer a great price only to make up for it with the shipping and handling charges. On the other hand, many stores offer free shipping!

3). Make sure the online store is reputable. Do they have a return policy and a privacy statement that you can live with? Do they offer secure purchases? You should only make online purchases through a site that offers secure purchases. Most sites that offer secure purchases will display it. For those that do not, look for the http: in the address bar to change to https: on the store’s shopping cart or the page where you put in your credit card number.

4). Make sure the online store includes complete contact information, including a phone number, e-mail address, and mailing address.

5). It’s best to make your online purchases with a credit card. A credit card offers you an extra level of protection in case something goes awry and the online store is not handling the situation to your satisfaction. Most credit card companies will reverse a charge if you dispute it for good reason and have tried to resolve the problem to no avail.

Holiday shopping can be stressful but by doing your Christmas holiday shopping online you can have an easier time of it. The World Wide Web offers many benefits to online Christmas shoppers such as, no lines, great deals and the widest variety of products. Go ahead, give it a try you may just be pleasantly surprised at how stress free your holiday shopping can be.

How to Shop Online During the Holiday

The months before Christmas are one of the most profitable times for businesses in North America. Millions are made every year from special shopping events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There’s almost no store that doesn’t have a discount during this time of the year, as they’re all trying to compete for your valuable dollars. One of the biggest methods that companies are using to sell their product is the use of the Internet. Companies are providing huge incentives to get costumers to shop on their websites. This includes free shipping deals, major discounts and future purchase discounts.

There are a few ways in which you can find deals on the Internet for online shopping. Blogs are a huge resource of coupon codes and discounts, as they offer the reader a cheaper product and provide the blogger an affiliate commission. For example, my blog has quite a few deals posted right now, ranging from Black Friday electronic sales to tea set discounts, all of which give me a commission and save my readers hundreds of dollars. There has been increasing debate recently over the legitimacy of deals that are provided by bloggers because of the fact that they receive a percentage of the money paid to the retailer. Critics have suggested that bloggers who post these coupon codes are spammers and are fraudulent. It’s important for the costumer to realize though that this is not the case, that just because an affiliate link is posted on a blog doesn’t mean that the blogger is trying to rip off the costumer. It’s exactly the same way that salesman make money in electronics stores or a car dealership; by selling you the product and receiving commission for that particular sale.

Coupon search engines have become increasingly popular as of late. These search engines crawl through the Internet looking for discounts, then compile them into a nice orderly list for the costumer to browse through. These search engines can really save countless hours amounts of time when shopping, as you don’t need to browse from site to site looking for the best deals. So if you’re looking for coupons on a particular product using these search engines can minimize the hassle and time you waste browsing to different sites. A coupon search engine that I’d recommend is Tagjag.com. This search engine provides immediate and accurate results to some of the webs largest coupon code discounts.

One other way for finding deals is by using site that has been a huge hit with online shoppers called Amazon.com. Amazon is the biggest online retailer out there right now, which isn’t a surprise considering all of the discounts you can find there. What makes Amazon so popular is the way the site is laid out. During specific celebrations throughout the year, like Christmas, Amazon sets up sales pages that break down the different types of deals they are currently having. For example, their navigation bar shows all the different categories of products, then gives you the option of breaking the results down into categories, then into discount percentages. You can then rearrange your search results into best selling, most expensive, least expensive, or highest rated. This provides the user with accurate and detailed information about whether the product their interested in purchasing is worth paying the money for.

With all of this said, it’s still important to remember that there are significant dangers and security risks on the Internet when shopping online. Before typing in your credit card number make sure that you double check that the website you’re giving it to isn’t a fraud. Also, refrain from clicking on links in emails, as it’s extremely easy for a hacker to hide a real URL with a fake one. Another tip that I often reiterate to people is to check with a friend about the legitimacy of a website. Ask them about their experiences and note any problems or difficulties they might have faced. There are millions of online shopping security tips that could be said, but the most important thing for a shopper to do is use common sense.

All in all, shopping online can be a great experience. There are so many resources available for costumers to use on the Internet, whether it be a blog or a coupon search engine. Additionally, shipping has become so much cheaper than previous years so taking advantage of that will safe you even more money. Remember to stay safe though and not give out your credit card to people you’d think aren’t trustworthy.

How To Protect Sensitive Credit Card Information When Shopping Online

Shopping online has been a way of life today. You can buy clothes, shoes, books, electronics, appliances, and even food online. Because of the various conveniences online shopping has to offer, a lot of people are choosing this option instead of buying what they need or want from a brick-and-mortar shop.

Even today, online shopping is sometimes still not the safest option. There are still many retailers on the Internet that are unscrupulous and simply want to take the money of buyers. There are also some e-commerce sites that do nothing but steal sensitive information from customers, especially their credit card details.

If you like shopping online, you can still make sure all your sensitive credit card information will not be stolen by dishonest retailers. You can do so by following the tips below:

Shop only from reputable and familiar online shops. Most online shoppers today keep buying from the same e-commerce sites that they trust and had a good experience with. However, what if you want to buy something that is only sold by an online shop that you don’t have any experience with? Experts say that if it’s your first time to shop at an online store, conduct some research to ensure it is a legitimate seller. Check for merchant reviews online or ask for feedback from some of the e-commerce site’s past and present customers. In addition, go over the vendor’s refund policy and contact information. Read the privacy policy properly as well to understand how your information may be used.

Shop at sites that have locked HTTPS connection. Before entering any personal, credit card and sensitive information on a website, make sure the site is using a secure connection with SSL. Look at the browser’s URL bar to see if there’s a padlock showing. Make sure that the web address begins with HTTPS as well. If you can see these two, you are assured that you have a secured connection on that website and that your data is transferred safely and securely when you make a purchase.

Never store credit card details in browsers or online accounts. Online shopping involves a lot of tedious and long electronic forms which means a lot of repetitive typing as you fill out your name, address, phone number, email, etc. And you have to do this every time you have to buy something. If you store personal information on your web browser or your online accounts, you run the risk of having these details hacked. As such, aside from not storing these details, clear the history and cache of your browser after buying something online.

Share as little personal information as possible. There are a lot of online shops that won’t let you checkout without confirming some personal details. If you see the option to checkout as a guest, always choose this option. Also, fill out only the required fields and nothing more. Take the time to read and understand what information they’re asking for and how that data may be used. Again, you can read these on the site’s privacy policy. When online shops have little information about you, your risk of being embroiled in a data breach is lower as well.

Carefully and regularly monitor your credit card statements. Whenever you get your credit card statements, review them carefully for any unauthorized charges. Experts say that printing receipts from online purchases or saving the records you received in your email will make it easier for you to compare your bank statements against your online purchases. If you see any discrepancies, contact your bank and report the issue immediately.

Shopping Online Safety Tips

Read important shopping online safety tips before your next online purchase. These online safety tips will help make your shopping experience safe, secure, and pleasurable. More and more people are using the internet to make purchases and though most transactions are without complications, safeguards for online safety is crucial.

Get to know the merchant when shopping online

When shopping, be sure to gather as much information as you can about the merchant you will be dealing with. Check their reputation to see if they are a reliable source to purchase from. Look for internet rating services and directories that provide helpful information about merchants.

Is the site secure?

Most sites that are visited are very secure but yet there are those that you need to be aware of. Taking the right precautions and tips will ensure a complete and safe purchase. Let us start to see what protection there is when you are about to make that purchase. Is there a closed lock or unbroken key in your browser window? The site is not secure if the key is broken or the lock is open. Is there “https:” not “http” on the web address that ask for your password, credit card, or other personal information? Look for a pop-up box that says you are entering a secure area. Also, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) are used on some sites.

Use different passwords

Prevent someone committing fraud by changing your passwords. A suggestion would be to change them every 2-3 months. For sites requiring sensitive information, create unique passwords different from what is used for other entries.

When you create your passwords, do not use personal words and numbers such as your phone number, your name, social security number, or address. Use a combination of letters and numbers. Be sure to remember the passwords and if you need to, write it down and keep them in a safe place where they cannot be found.

Beware of bogus emails

You may receive many clever emails imitating merchants, banks, or other companies that will ask for your personal information. You will be asked to verify your password, reestablish your accounts, or anything in order to get access to sensitive information. Do not click on their links nor answer the emails. If you have a question and have some concern, contact your trusted source to see the email is legitimate.

Bona fide businesses do not ask for sensitive information such as your SSN or bank account numbers on the web. Stay updated with anti-virus and spam software for added protection.

Safeguard and protect

Take the time to investigate other ways that you can safeguard and secure protection when you are shopping online. Following these steps and more will greatly decrease the chances of being a victim of fraud and give you peace of mind when shopping.

Tips Guaranteed to Make You Want to Shop Online!

Shopping online can be very enjoyable but one must exercise common sense and some good tricks to get out ahead. Shopping on the internet should start here. This guideline is created to help you enjoy the experience of shopping online – you may even make some cash and pick up some savings tips too:

1. Use Contact Us Button – ALWAYS!
If you are interested in purchasing a product or service online – first contact the site using their “contact us” button. If you do not get a response with 24 – 48 business hours – be very wary about doing business with that site. Even for well known sites – you still need to see what their customer service is like so don’t bypass this step. Being big does not necessarily mean good customer service. The response should not be an automated one advising you to check site’s FAQ for your answer. The trick is to make your query one that will have to be answered by a REAL person. I have developed the mindset that ” if they don’t respond to my query within 24 – 48 hours” – I won’t buy!

2. Join Their Affiliate Program
If you have a website – and wish to purchase anything online first check to see if the site you plan to purchase from offers an affiliate program. If they do, this provides the perfect opportunity for you to see how they will treat you and anyone that you refer down the road. Joining the affiliate program provides a threefold opportunity:

First: Testing Customer Service PRE-SALE. This is another way of testing customer service by applying for the affiliate program. If you get a friendly response within 24 – 48 business hours and you get a comfortable feel about the site, proceed to join their affiliate program. Next purchase the item you set out to purchase in the first place BUT from YOUR link on YOUR site.

Second: You get paid for purchasing and that is just a sweet bonus! You will usually get back either a percentage of your own purchase or a set $ amount. Check to see how long your cookies take to expire. The longer of course is the better – the best are cookies that never expire. If you have a busy site you may be able to market the product and make great commission before your cookie expires.

Third: Testing Customer Service POST-SALE. You are now in the position of a customer of this site as well as an affiliate. As a customer you can evaluate – was the service and item as advertised? Was service friendly? Did the product arrive timely? Was the quality as advertised? Was there a thank you email for the purchase? Did you receive an electronic receipt? Was there follow up contact to enquire about delivery etc. As an affiliate – Was your affiliate account credited with the commission within the time set out in their affiliate contract? If you get all the right answers you can now proceed to confidently market that product on your site because you are now your own living , breathing credible testimonial.

3. CHARGE IT WITH CONFIDENCE
Many first time online shoppers are wary about flashing out their credit card to charge it and they have many reasons to be. Countless stories about online credit card fraud abound. Be careful, exercise common sense. The credit card companies are also very vigilant and pro-active in protecting their customers but that should not preclude you from indulging in your own due diligence. Follow these tips and you will minimize your risk.

a. First get a credit card that you use exclusively for online shopping.
b. Keep the limit $500 or below.
c. Only purchase at sites that looks like a real person(s) is/are behind it – i.e misspellings, out of date content -example advertising a salon trade show for 2006 in 2008 are dead give ways of unmanned sites.
d. Beware of squatter sites – sites that are not really involving in retail but host a lot of retail links.
e. Your first line of defence if you are not sure, is to use the – “contact us link” if there is none – leave right away.

4. ORGANIZE ORGANIZE ORGANIZE
When shopping online you will undoubtedly get a lot of email contact from the sites that you do business with. In no time your email inbox will be cluttered with these emails. These are important emails please do not delete them. Here is what I recommend – create a folder in your email program for EVERY company that you do business with and SAVE all their contact with you in their respective folder. This way anything you receive such as guarantee of service, warranty, commission promised, receipts, contract terms , etc you can access easily and quickly should a dispute arise later.

This trick is especially good if you are given passwords and username to log into a site a while ago and now need it. Yes – most, if not, all sites have a password/username retrieval process but why wait on their reply if all you need to do is to check your own folder? This tip is also good for correspondences from lawyers, school teacher etc. If it is important file it.

5. DON’T GIVE TOO MUCH
There are many legitimate sites in cyberspace that are very honourable and would never attempt to swindle you therefore an article like this they would welcome. They may even post on their sites for their customers. However there are so many many sites that are set up just to do the very opposite. These are the ones that this tip is intended to warn you of. If you are asked to provide your Social Security Number (USA) or your Social Insurance Number (Canada) you might want to reconsider doing so. I have had the experience of signing up for work-from-home programs promising great wealth working from home completing surveys, some clerical stuff etc etc but you have to provide the Social Security info for your self and your family members etc to be paid. I did! Luckily nothing happened to my identify to my knowledge unless there is a Desemal Thomas in the USA that is not YET affecting my identify here in Canada. This took place in my newbie days on the internet when I trusted everybody. Unless you want a clone of yourself – Rule of thumb – LESS is MORE. No social security numbers, no full date of birth, bank account information, give only what make sense. Less information = more protection.

6. THERE IS NO GET RICH FORMULA!
Stay away from the temptation – (speaking from experience). Temptation can that burn a LARGE hole in your credit card. If these folks touting the rich life on the waterfront properties, the yacht, the 5 star vacations did have the get rich-overnight-formula why would they want to share it with you a total stranger? It would be so guarded by these people – you would have a better chance of getting some of the royal jewels from Fort Knox than them sharing it with you. Don’t fall for the manufactured testimonials – do you know any of these people featured there? Do you know anyone who knows anyone featured there? What proof do you have that it is real? Follow your Gut instinct? Beware!

7. LET EQUIFAX/ TRANS UNION BE YOUR FRIENDS!
If you have heeded all the tips provided above and still have that feeling that something is just not right after you have made a purchase.

a. Contact your credit card provider IMMEDIATELY – request that they not accept the payment and you MUST not accept the good or service. You cannot have it both ways.
b. Check your credit report for any unusual activities and file a dispute of any item on your credit report that you did not authorize.
c. Make checking your credit report a consistent habit – some credit card companies offer credit monitoring service.

8. You CAN Make MONEY while SHOPPING ONLINE
In spite of the tip in #6 you CAN make money online. I am not selling you any program – NO! This is how it works.

The premise is – if you have purchased products and service online and you are pleased with it you may want to share it to others. Why not make some money doing so. There are folks who do make a tidy sum of money online doing just that. Selling as a middleman/women! That is what affiliate/reseller programs are about. You are marketing someone else’s products or services. Instead of the vacuum salesman going door-to-door in the old days – the vacuum salesman now simply sets up a site and calls himself a “RESELLER” and get to work getting traffic to his site to purchase the vacuums from him.

Or Mr. Vacuum Salesman puts a banner on his site from the manufacturer of the vacuums and gets paid REFERRING clients to buy the vacuums directly from the manufacturer. Find a decent set of affiliate programs from sites such as Commission Junction, Share a Sale, Clickbank among others.

They key is that you have to generate TRAFFIC to sell to! That is it straight and simple. If your website is not even ranked on Google chances of a customer finding you online via search engine is very very slim. Most people start out with a regular site with one central product or service and once they build credibility and a decent size customer base they introduce these add -on services and products. It will take time but if you remain consistent you can make money online and elevate your enjoyment of the internet.

9. DON’T BE AFRAID
Don’t be afraid to purchase on the internet – it is a fun place. Do your research, compare, read un-solicited customer feedback then buy. Some sites have customer feedback that you know is real because it is so raw in its content and both good and bad reviews are posted. Believe me, you will know if it rings true. Exercise common sense and happy shopping – it can be fun.

Tips To Christmas Shopping

When you think of Christmas, the first thing that comes to mind is likely to be buying gifts for others and the crowded shopping malls but that does not have to be the case anymore if you carry out Christmas shopping online. If you are one of those who stick to shopping at crowded shopping malls because you think that it is a Christmas tradition, your experience with online shopping will very likely change your mind.

Thanks to the advancement in technology, you can now carry out all or part of your Christmas shopping online without all the hassle and exhaustion you will feel when you have to wriggle your way through crowds of busy shoppers. Just imagine the luxury of browsing through the catalogue of online stores and all you have to do to buy an item is to make a few clicks.

You can even request for the items to be gift wrapped and everything will be delivered right to your doorstep. You don’t even have to leave your house to get all your Christmas shopping done! No wonder online shopping is fast gaining popularity these days! However, to ensure that your shopping is carried out safely and that you get your gifts on time for Christmas, here are 3 tips to help you.

1. Get your Christmas shopping done in time
It is very important that you do your shopping for Christmas early. This will ensure that you receive all your gifts in time for Christmas without having to incur high costs for rushed shipping for the items. You do not want to disappoint your friends and relatives by giving them their presents late but at the same time, you do not want to spend unnecessarily. If you request for only standard shipping, the rates are usually very reasonable and you might even get a huge discount for bulk purchase.

On the other hand, you will not want to buy your gifts too early either because if the gifts arrive too early, they will either take up too much space in the house or you end up forgetting where you have kept them. Thus, you have to time your shopping carefully. It will be safe to carry out your Christmas shopping online between mid October and early December.

2. Purchase only from reputable online retailers
When you carry out a search online, you will find that there are many stores online and some might even offer you special discounts which are irresistible. However, to safeguard yourself, you should only make your purchases from retailers that are reputable to prevent fraud incidents from happening to you. One way of doing so is to check for recommendations or satisfied customers’ feedbacks. If you could not find any, it is best that you shop somewhere else.

3. Check model details before purchase
When you are shopping online, you can only see the pictures of the items that you want to purchase and sometimes this may differ from the actual items. To avoid disappointment, you should check the model number first. Take for instance you have seen an espresso maker at your local store or on the advertisement page of your local newspapers. You can check its model number against the one at the online store to ensure that you are getting the right one. In instances when you are getting clothing, you should also check the size against the measurement chart so that you do not get the wrong size.

If you carry out your Christmas shopping online the right way, it can save you a lot of time and frustrations. Christmas is a time of celebrations and the process of buying gifts should also be a joyous occasion. Thus, keep the above tips in mind when you are shopping for your items and you will not go wrong. Have fun!

Useful Tips When Shopping

Everyone has been to shopping malls at some point in their lives. But what happens when you tire of making your way to the local shopping center? Do you have any other options? Thankfully, this is the 21st century, and yes, you do happen to have a wide variety of choices. Like online shopping. No need to leave your sea, just click and buy! Now isn’t that convenient?

Very!

So here are some useful tips to keep in mind when doing online shopping. Don’t worry, it’s not rocket science, so keep reading. Online shopping is not free. The absence of a cash register means you are paying online – using your credit card or other forms of payment. Now most people are wary about handing over their financial information online – and rightly so too – but most online shopping sites have multiple security systems and spam-free networks that encrypt your credit card numbers when doing online transactions. Be sure to look out for such sites with offers that are too good to be true, as these are usually scams.

When shopping online, always compare sites so to suss out the best deals. Item A may be going for $200, but you might come across another site selling the same thing for half the price, so don’t always be in a rush to buy something! Keep in mind that online shopping is just like shopping in a mall – you want to find the best deals for yourself!

Did you know that online shopping is also way more affordable than shopping in a real mall? A good reason for this is because online shops don’t need to pay rent, so they don’t have to increase their stock price to make a profit. Why pay retail if you don’t have to, right? While you may not be able to bargain the prices, you may want to know that loyal customers are rewarded with 50% less on future purchases, complete with discount vouchers and freebies delivered with your purchase.

When online shopping, do a double check on your credit card details and other miscellaneous information before you check out. Who knows, you might accidentally key in six items of deodorants instead of one and this will no doubt have an effect on your credit card bill!

Online shopping may be a bit intimidating for beginners, but once you get the hang of it, it’s like riding a bicycle! You may make a few lousy purchases here and there and get ripped off by some crappy online stores – but that’s all part of the experience, and we all learn by making mistakes, no?

Helpful Tips to Keep in Mind Shopping Online

It is true, that you can shop just about everything and anything online shop. You can shop from food to cars to aircraft carriers. If it has a price, you can probably shop for it online. Here are some helpful tips that will keep your holiday shopping safe and secure. It will even save you some money.

Security:

First make sure the site you are shopping at has a SSL certificate. Secure Sockets Layer ensures that the website you are using is safe and secure. Typically websites will actually display a SSL certificate somewhere on their site. If not keep an eye out for the HTTPs at the top of the browser during check out. Most browsers such as Firefox, IE 7.0+, Opera, and Chrome will in fact identify an unsecure website.

Policy: Always make sure they have one. The worst thing you can do is buy a product and it ends up broken and you cannot return it. Make sure they at least have a return policy before purchasing.

Saving Money:

  • One of the best deals about online shopping is the No Sales tax approach. Unless the company is located in a specific area, there is no sales tax. (IE: If the company is located in Alabama, than it can only tax products that it sells to citizens of Alabama.
  • Shop around first. My favorite part of online shopping is that there is more competition and more locations to shop from resulting in lower prices. Instead of places like Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart and so on where retail locations are just convenient and were forced to shop there, we don’t have to because were Online!
  • Search for coupons. Almost every e-commerce site out there has a coupon for something.
  • Use Google Shopping to your advantage. They are able to sort the lowest priced items.

Why Shop Online?

  • If saving money hasn’t convinced you, than time management should. It is much quicker to find what you’re looking for online than driving around looking for the products.
  • You can do all your holiday shopping on your lunch break or day off quickly and easily.

Online shopping isn’t for everyone. If you have never bought something online, I’d recommend giving it a shot. You’d be surprised how easy it is to find what you are looking for with just a click of a button. The #1 mistake of online shopping is falling for a scam artists’ trap. So again to reiterate, make sure the site your shopping is secure. Enjoy the Fall and Winter season and shop smart.

Safe Online Shopping

You need to buy gifts for the holidays and you need to purchase them quickly. You can either brave the madness of shopping at your local mall or kick back at home and buy all your gifts online. Doing your holiday shopping online can be a great way to save time while you find the right gifts at the best price. You’ll skip the parking lot wars, avoid getting the flu from your fellow shoppers, and stay out of pick-pockets’ crosshairs. But though it may be easy and convenient to shop in your pajamas, you still need to take precautions to make sure your electronic ‘purse strings’ are safe and secure. Here are some simple tips for safe online shopping:

Secure your computer. Make sure your home computer has updated security software installed, and run regular system check to keep hackers’ keylogging viruses away.

ONLY shop from home. Don’t do your online shopping from the local cafĂ©, the airport or other public places. These open networks are easier targets for identity thieves to hack into your computer. Only shop from your secured home network.

Click carefully. Your favorite store just sent you a great coupon! But wait! Before you click on email links, be sure of where they lead. Scam emails can look just like the real ones from your favorite stores, with links that appear to take you to legitimate sites. But hover over the link and you may see a different web address – this could be a fake site, designed to gather your credit card information for fraud. Your safest bet is to manually navigate to your favorite retailer’s website.

Know thy merchant. One of best parts of online shopping is easily comparing prices to find a great deal. You may find the gift you want for half the price – but make sure the merchant is reputable and trustworthy. If you haven’t done business with a merchant before, look for online reviews. Using aggregators like Amazon.com and Yahoo Shopping is another good way to make sure your merchant doesn’t take you for a fraudulent sleigh ride.

Lock down your site. When you visit a retailer’s website, look for “https” at the beginning of the URL. This “s” – along with a small gold lock in the lower-right corner of your browser – indicates an extra level of security for your online shopping.

Log out. Always logout securely when leaving a website.

Check if your payment details are stored. Some online shopping sites ask if you want to store your payment details for future purchases. It’s always handy to have your information stored, especially if you use that site often. But, watch out for this on lesser-known websites.

Compare ‘real’ prices. Make sure you know how much you will be charged for shipping, and if there are any taxes or fees that will be added to your online purchase. These ‘extras’ can add up quickly, so be sure you include them when comparison shopping. Many retailers offer free shipping around the holidays, and others allow free in-store pick-up of your online purchases – easy ways to add extra savings to your holiday shopping.

Know the Return Policy. Read the merchant’s return policy before making your purchase. One of the downsides of online shopping is the inability to ‘try it on’ or see the item before purchasing, so make sure your merchant offers you an easy way to return/refund your purchase if it’s not what you expected.

Choose Credit – not Debit. If possible, use a credit card to pay for online purchases. Federal law limits your liability to $50 in the event of fraud. Better yet, many credit card companies will waive this liability, and offer advanced fraud protection and detection programs to keep you safe.

Keep an eye out. If you are doing a lot of online shopping, make sure to check your account and credit card statements regularly to verify all charges. If you have questions about a transaction or suspect fraud, call your financial institution immediately.

Save your Receipts! Just as with in-store shopping, you’ll want to save all your receipts from online shopping. You may choose to save emailed receipts on your computer, or print them out and file with other receipts.

The bottom line! You can take advantage of the Internet’s great shopping opportunities and still have peace of mind!

Shopping Online?

Online shopping is booming as more consumers take their business to e-tailers (electronic retailers) instead of the brick and mortar stores. After conducting a survey, the National Retail Federation estimates that approximately 52 million people, or 37% of shoppers, surf the web for the best deals. This number is continually growing as more products become available online and people gain confidence in shopping online.

Though some people are still unsure of giving their credit card numbers in exchange for merchandise over the Web, the Internet is a relatively safe place to shop due to improved technology and e-shopping savvy consumers. Here are a few tips to keep you, your computer and your bank account protected while you shop online.

  • Don’t Give Out Your Personal Information

Legitimate online retailers will never ask for your social security number at any time. Don’t give it to retailers—if someone requests it, contact the company.

  • Arm Your Computer

You can protect yourself as you shop online simply by installing some basic security programs on your computer including anti-spyware, anti-virus and pop-up blocker programs. This software will keep your financial information and passwords safe and out of the site of cyber thieves and hackers.

  • Use a Credit Card

Credit cards are easy to use online-just enter the credit card name, number and expiration date. There’s another important reason to use a credit card, if fraud occurs or you don’t get the product that you purchased, you can dispute the charges. However, if you use a money order or debit card, the money is usually gone without dispute.

  • Read the Fine Print

Whenever you shop online, read the fine print carefully so there are no surprises. Make sure you’re aware of shipping charges, delivery time, cancellation and return policies, as well as the seller’s privacy policy.

  • Don’t Respond to Unsolicited eMail

Never buy things or confirm your billing information through an unsolicited email, especially if you don’t recognize the source. Legitimate online retailers will never ask for your credit card number through an email. If you receive an email of this type, contact the company immediately.

  • Ensure the Connection is Secure

When you click to purchase an item online, your browser connection should become secure. Look for two signs: the site address should read https or shttp instead of http, indicating a secure connection, and small lock should appear in the browser toolbar.

  • Research Unknown Retailers

If you’re not familiar with the retailer, do some research before entrusting them with your credit card. Make sure they have a phone number and a mailing address. You may want to call them before making a purchase. You can also research the company on TRUSTe, Verisign and BBBOnline (Better Business Bureau).

  • If it Appears Too Good to be True, it Probably is

Use your intuition. If you come across a retailer that has a product priced substantially lower than other retailers, or offers an online coupon that gives an unbelievable discount, use caution. Website retailers have to make their money somehow. Read their privacy policy, make sure they aren’t selling your personal information and take the extra steps to ensure the company and product are valid.

With a few simple precautions, online shopping can save you time, money and keep you, your money and your information 100 percent safe.