Safe online shopping

Some people just cannot stand doing their Christmas shopping in person. The idea of the crowds and decorations just puts them off completely. This may well explain why so many people are turning to online shopping options.

According to research some 52 million people in the US, or 37 per cent of American consumers, shopped online from work during last year’s holiday season.
While many consumers are familiar with shopping online, it’s still important to take some necessary precautions to protect your privacy, and to ensure that what you buy arrives before Santa does.

Here are seven tips for shopping online this holiday season:

Shop reputable online retailers
Shopping online with major retailers such as Walmart, Sears, Target, Barnes & Noble and Amazon poses little risk. Organisations such as eBay, Yahoo Shopping and Bing Shopping make some effort to check out and rate merchants who do business through their sites. If you’re shopping with a lesser-known retailer, look for reviews and ratings on Google about the retailer before shopping.

Secure site
When you place your order, make sure the site where you’re entering your credit card or PayPal information is secure. Here are a couple ways to tell: Look in the web address bar. If there’s an “s” after “http” and a closed padlock icon to the right of the browser address, the site is secure.

Privacy policy
Most consumers ignore or overlook a vendor’s privacy policy. A privacy policy states what the vendor will do to safeguard your credit card and personal information. If you don’t see a privacy policy on the vendor’s website, or you don’t like what it says, shop elsewhere.

Return policies
Regardless of whether you’re shopping for a holiday gift online or from a catalogue, make sure you understand the retailer’s return policy. Because you’re buying an item that you can’t see or touch, and because it’s being transported, the product you buy online may not meet your expectations. Make sure you know if and how an online retailer handles returns and exchanges.

Keep your receipts
When you buy a product online, print out the receipt at the time you’re ordering the product. Save it and make sure to compare it to the receipt that comes with the product when it is delivered to your home or office to ensure that you received everything you ordered, and that you were correctly invoiced.

Coffee shops and airports
Many people like to head to their local coffee shop and peruse the Internet on the shop’s free WiFi. What many may not realise is that person sitting next to you sipping a double latte may actually be a hacker attempting to capture your personal data.

As tempting as it is, never shop while using a public WiFi network at the coffee shop or in the airport, and never leave your computer unattended, even for a quick trip to the
bathroom. WH

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