Safe Online Shopping: 10 Tips to Avoid Getting Burned

You need to buy gifts for the holidays and you have to purchase them quickly. You can either brave the madness of shopping at your local mall or kick back at home and buy all of your gifts online. Doing your holiday shopping online could be a great way to save time while you find the appropriate gifts at the best price. You’ll skip the parking lot wars, avoid getting the flu from your fellow buyers, and keep out of pick-pockets’ crosshairs. But though it may be easy and convenient to shop in your pajamas, you nevertheless still need to take precautions to make sure your electronic ‘purse strings’ are safe and sound. Here are some simple strategies for safe online shopping:
Secure your computer. Ensure that your home computer has updated security software program installed, and run regular system check to help keep hackers’ keylogging viruses away.
ONLY shop from your home. Don’t do your web shopping from the local caf�, the airport or additional public places. These open networks are easier targets for identity thieves to hack into your personal computer. Only shop from your own secured home network.
Click carefully. Your preferred store just sent you an excellent voucher! But wait! Before you click on email links, be sure of where they lead. Fraud emails can look similar to the real ones from your favorite stores, with back links that appear to take you to legitimate sites. But hover over the link and you may see a different web address – this may be a fake site, designed to gather your credit card info 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 effortlessly comparing prices to find a great deal. You may find the gift you need for half the purchase price – but make certain the merchant is dependable and trustworthy. In the event that you haven’t done business with a merchant before, look for online reviews. Using aggregators like Amazon.com and Yahoo Buying is another good way to be sure your merchant doesn’t acquire you for a fraudulent sleigh trip.
Lock down your site. Once you visit a retailer’s website, look for “https” at the start of the URL. This “s” – along with a small gold secure the lower-right corner of your browser – indicates a supplementary level of security for the online shopping.
Log out. Always logout safely when leaving a website.
Check if your payment details are stored. Some online purchasing sites ask if you want to store your payment specifics for future purchases. It certainly is handy to have your details stored, especially if you utilize that site often. But, watch out for this on lesser-known websites.
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Compare ‘real’ prices. Be sure you know how much you will end up charged for shipping, and if you can find any taxes or fees that will be added to your online purchase. These ‘extras’ can truly add up quickly, so make sure to include them when comparison buying. Many retailers offer free delivery around the holidays, and others allow free in-store pick-up of one’s online purchases – easy ways to add extra savings to your holiday shopping.
Know the Return Policy. Read the merchant’s return policy prior to making your purchase. One of the downsides of online shopping may be the inability to ‘try it on’ or start to see the item before purchasing, so ensure that your merchant offers you a good way to return/refund your purchase if it’s not what you expected.

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