December 14, 2010

12 online shopping dos and don'ts

by Elinor Mills

The holiday season is fast approaching and more people will be buying their Christmas gifts online than ever before. Here are some dos and don'ts for safe shopping on the Internet.

Dos:

-- Shop at trusted and reputable Web retailers. Reliable companies typically include their address and a phone number on their Web site.

-- Read user reviews and merchant ratings, and look for seals of approval from the Better Business Bureau. http://www.bbb.org/ and Truste http://www.truste.com/

-- Do your research before buying. Make sure you know what the item costs, including shipping, handling and sales tax. And understand the returns policy and the retailer's privacy policy.

-- Take a screenshot of your order page or save the page as an HTML file, rather than printing it out.

-- Check your credit card statement online frequently to monitor for fraudulent charges.

-- Keep your anti-virus up to date and be diligent about installing updates for browser, applications and operating system software.

-- Safeguard your passwords. Choose strong ones, change them often and vary them from site to site.

Don'ts:

-- Don't conduct transactions on public computers or terminals, which could have keystroke loggers or other malware on them.

-- Don't fall for phishing attempts from scammers pretending to be legitimate retailers. Warning signs of phishing e-mails are misspellings, poor grammar, URLs that are incorrect. For more on how to recognize phishing attempts read Recognizing Phishing E-mails (FAQ).

-- Avoid typing in credit card information without seeing "https" in the URL address bar and a closed padlock somewhere on the screen.

-- Don't pay online with a debit card or use a check; use a credit card instead for more protection against liability in the case of fraud.

-- Beware of offers that are too good to be true, which often end up being scams.

For more detailed information about safe holiday Web surfing read our Tips for safe online shopping.

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