Safe Online Shopping Tips

Shopping online can be a great way to snag a bargain, get free shipping, and save you a trip to the mall. But along with the convenience of shopping at home in your pajamas and slippers comes some risk. Review the following safe online shopping tips below.

Know the merchant: If you recognize the merchant you are shopping with from a brick & mortar store chances are that their name is recognizable for a reason and your online shopping experience with them is safe. If you have never heard of the site be extra cautious and check them out thoroughly.

Check the websites privacy policy: Just about every website collects private information from you. From your IP address, email address, to your credit card information depending on what information they collect. Before you give them any of your personal information check out the websites privacy policy. This can usually be found in the footer (the bottom) of most sites pages, but you may need to search around for it if it is not located there. If you find a privacy policy, read it and make sure you understand and agree with what the company says that they will or can do with your information before you give them your personal info. If you cannot find a privacy policy, skip this merchant, plain and simple. No reputable online merchant would be caught dead without a privacy policy.

Search the website name in a any popular search engine: Open up a new window or tab in your browser and go to your favorite search engine (like Google or Yahoo) and search for the companies name. See what comes up in the search results. Look a few pages deep to see what comes up. I once “Googled” a company and found scads of horrible consumer reviews which prevented me from being scammed like hundreds of others had been. If everything checks out in your search proceed to the next step.

Check the URL: Are you about to give this online merchant your credit card number to make a purchase. Check out the URL in the address bar to make sure that it is secure.

What you are looking for:

A URL that looks like this: [https://site-name.com]  (the ‘s’ after the http means secure)

Avoid giving financial information to any site with out the ‘s’ after the http in the URL.

Look for contact information: All legitimate online merchants will have a working phone number where you can speak to a live operator (you may need to wait a while to get one but eventually you can get one). Find the companies phone number and give it a call. That bad merchant I mentioned above that I got bad search result hits, well turns out that company had a phone number listed on their website but when you called it you got a recording that all “customer service” was done online only. Big red flag right there!

Check out shipping and return policies: You are just about there and ready to buy. But stop and take a moment to review the merchants shipping and return policies so that you are aware of the policy before you order. Again this information can usually be found in the footer of the site.

Don’t share: We are all taught from a young age that we must share. “Share your toys with your brother.” When it comes to online shopping though, sharing is not a good thing. Public computers (such as at the library), computers on a network (like at work), or using a shared wireless connection (like at Starbucks) can all be instances where your personal information can be shared with those that you don’t want to share it with. So wait to do your online shopping when you are at home, using your own computer, on a connection that you are sure is secure.

Pay with a credit card: OK so you have checked out the site fully using all the above tips and so far so good, everything checks out. So now you are ready to make that purchase (after all you must get in on that 50% offer with free shipping!) So how do you pay? Financial experts all agree that a credit card is the way to go. Why a credit card and not your bank card? Because most credit cards have protection on them in case your get scammed or ripped off. On the other hand your bank card takes the money right from your bank account and it can take months to settle a dispute, if you can settle it at all. This is a lengthy process, something I have gone through myself and the outcome was not pretty. No credit card? Some card companies such as Discover Card, Bank of America and Citi offer a secure online account number service, a virtual credit card or virtual account number.

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Online Shopping Tips for the Holiday Season

E-commerce is the fastest-growing sector of the retail industry, though sales are highly seasonal. Black Friday is the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. It is the busiest day of the year for both online and brick and mortar stores. A little over a month later, on January 1st, the shopping season ends on New Year’s Day.

Though the numbers vary from year to year, holiday shopping typically accounts for around twenty percent of total retail sales for the industry. And virtual stores have been doing a much better job of attracting new customers in recent years than traditional ones. There are many obvious explanations for this.

First and most important, shopping online is safer than it has ever been. As a result, most new customers do not worry about credit card fraud or theft. People who do not regularly shop on the internet are also far more likely to buy online during the holidays, in order to avoid the long lines and the crowded stores.

After several slow seasons in the wake of the Great Recession, most experts are predicting a banner year for online sellers. One of the most respected independent research companies, Forrester Research Inc., recently released a report that says that online sales in the U.S. will rise by a whopping 15 percent this coming holiday season. By comparison, regular brick and mortar stores are only expected to enjoy a year-over-year increase of around 3 percent. Why are shoppers going online?

In addition to the safety and convenience of cyber shopping, it is also typically a bit cheaper. Because they do not have big stores, large staffs or overhead, online sellers can slash prices and pass cost savings along to their consumers. With the economy in a rut, more and more shoppers are going online, as they try to stretch their dollars and get more for less. In this article, we will discuss a few simple online shopping tips for the holiday season.

Check Reviews

As we mentioned, buying online is safer than ever. But it does become a bit riskier during the holiday season. There are unscrupulous sellers that will offer incredible deals to online shoppers and then disappear the next day with their credit card numbers. Yes, it does happen. That is why it is extremely important to make sure that a specific site is on the up-and-up. This can be done with a simple web search. No matter the merchant, there should be a record of what he has done online. Since most online shoppers love to write reviews, you should be able to get the information you need. At the very least, it is important to find out if the seller delivers on time and if his products are as advertised. If you cannot locate a single customer review for a merchant and his deals seem too good to be true, they probably are!

Read Return Policies

About a third of all holiday gifts are either exchanged or returned. Unfortunately, some online sellers have incredibly ambiguous return policies, which may lead to problems in the future. It is also a fact that items that are bought online are far more likely to be returned, since they are purchased sight unseen. For these reasons, it is important to read the merchant’s return policies and make sure he will accept returns, no questions asked. If a seller refuses to accept returns, it is probably best to find another vendor.

Look for Deals

After you have confirmed that a seller is legitimate, it is time to start shopping to save. A savvy shopper can find many ways to stretch their dollars on the internet. In addition to seasonal sales, many of the top merchants offer their customer discounts for buying more. Probably the most common incentive is free shipping. Yes, this discount was designed to encourage you to spend more, but at the end of the day both sides win. You get the merchandise you need at a lower price and the vendor gets to sell a little more.

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Smart Online Shopping Tips

Convenience and speed are among the greatest benefits the Internet has bestowed upon us and both these attributes are best demonstrated when we shop online.

When compared to a brick-and-mortar experience, online shopping has numerous advantages. It helps you avoid the hassle of looking for parking; it saves you the trouble of walking down seemingly endless shopping aisles as you search for items; it helps you save time because you don’t have to travel to the mall; and it helps you skip the long queues at the checkout counter! In addition to this, online shopping gives you access to global premium brands, which may not be available locally, and often entitles you to better deals, bigger discounts and more reward points, which you can redeem for free purchases later on.

So what do you need to shop online? Just a credit card! Your credit card empowers to you to shop from anywhere 24 X 7 through online shopping. Credit card companies such as HDFC, ICICI, Kotak (and even issuers such as VIsa & MasterCard) often have special deals for online purchases. For instance HDFC currently running a program where their members get up to 5 times the points on online purchases. Such offers encourage people to do more of online shopping as there is a sense of gratification for the customer in terms of gifts he can get. However, when buying off the Internet, always ensure that your online purchases are safe. Here are some online shopping tips that will help:

o Always verify that the URL of the website is correct by checking it in the address bar of the Internet browser. This will protect you against phishing.
o Only shop from trusted, well-established and reputed websites.
o Never type sensitive information such as your credit card number, CVV etc. in pop-up windows.
o Sign up for services like ‘Verified by Visa’ or ‘Master Card Secure Code’ before shopping online with your credit card for a safer shopping experience.
o The URL of the webpage where you enter your credit card details should start with ‘https’ and not ‘http’. This indicates it is a secure website.
o Jot down relevant transaction IDs or take printouts of the purchase confirmation screen for future reference.
o Check to see that the webpage you are on has a closed padlock or a key icon on it before entering sensitive information.

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4 Online Shopping Tips

You’re not shopping online? Of course you are. Everybody shops online these days, and every company has online stores. Some buy a lot, and some a little. The benefits include lower prices through online shopping discounts, quick and easy price comparisons, and convenience. But if you are not taking advantage of the staggering promotions that retailers are and will continue to offer, you are simply leaving a whole lot of money on the table.

Money Saving Tip #1: Take A Minute to Compare Prices

Checking the prices offered by different retailers is so easy these days. Most people use search engines like Google and Bing to instantly view competing retailers and compare prices in seconds. This in and of itself is an awesome convenience that wasn’t reality just a handful of years ago, but you can take it a step further. There are websites that showcase thousands of retailers from one place so you can have a one stop shopping hub to start from every time you need to shop from home. There are too many of these sites out there to name, but you’ve probably heard of Amazon.com.

Money Saving Tip #2: Milk The Retailer With Affiliate Commissions

The competition is so steep between online shopping retailers that they are actually willing to pay you or anybody else that “refers” shoppers to their websites. They do this through affiliate commissions. On top of rock bottom bargain basement prices, they will also pay a commission to affiliates. When you sign up as an affiliate, anything purchased by you or any shoppers that find the shopping website through your affiliate link will generate a commission that will be paid directly to you by the retailer. Pretty sweet, huh? The only drawback here is that it can become time consuming signing up with many stores and keeping track of your links.

Money Saving Tip #3: Milk The Retailer Even More

On top of competitive pricing and affiliate commissions, there are always online shopping promotions called “coupon codes”. These codes are usually only good for a short time period, but after you shop once at an online store, they will likely email you new discount coupons that can yield substantial savings. I have used coupon codes that were good for 50% discounts, and still received affiliate commissions.

Money Saving Tip #4: Make Money With Your Own Online Shopping Mall

You can actually get your own shopping website that features thousands of retailers with all the affiliate links built in. Remember the drawback to keeping track of all your affiliate links? No need to worry. You only need to sign up once and you can shop from home all day long. They track all the affiliate links and sales. If you do all your personal shopping through your website, meaning household products, clothes, shoes, personal care products, etc., amazing things can happen. Not only can you quickly and easily compare prices, after you buy at rock bottom discounts, you will actually get paid from the retailers to shop.

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Five Easy To Follow Online Shopping Tips

While earlier the internet only connected people, today it has created a boom by connecting businesses. The internet today has come out as a new medium for shopping. Online shopping has grown enormously popular and is one of the fastest growing businesses across the globe. Shopping today has surpassed the boundaries of visiting malls, shopping outlets and stores. Online shopping has changed the old-fashioned ways of shopping. Everyone, be it the men or the women, younger generation or the older, all are going online and shopping. Today a lot of companies are creating online stores and hence creating their social presence. There are stores to cater both to the needs of sellers and buyers.

No matter, what kind of products you are looking for, you can find almost everything on the internet. Online shopping provides you with the convenience of shopping 24/7 without actually moving around. It provides you with the ease of having all the products under one roof. The product range in online shopping is mind boggling. There are huge bargain offers and the shipping of the product is really fast. You can have the product at your doorstep without actually moving out of your home.

Online shopping today has become more of a routine rather than a hobby. Billions of people today shop online.The combination of speed, convenience, diverse range of products, good deals on the product and the option of sending the product back if unsatisfied has made us addicted to online shopping. It has become so rampant also because people are saved from the pain of standing in long queues at the cash counter. But we must also remember to be careful while shopping online. You not only need your credit card but also a little awareness while shopping online. Here are five easy to follow online shopping tips:

Tip 1: Always shop from trusted websites
Always look for trusted, well known and respectable online retailers. With many E-shopping portals coming up, you need to be extra careful while shopping. Websites that are certified by Internet Trust Organizations such as ‘BB online’, must be preferred since they protect your privacy. Beware of misspellings and resist the temptation of the enticing sales.

Tip 2: Identify a secure web transaction
Never, ever buy anything from a website that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. One way to know whether the site has SSL is to confirm that the site starts from HTTPS://, instead of just an HTTP. Also a padlock symbol appears on the URL in the address bar.

Tip 3: keep it a secret
Always keep your personal details a secret. Never shell out details about your credit card or any other bank details unless absolute necessary. Be careful when it comes to entering personal information. Giving away too much information can give the hackers the required edge.

Tip 4: Be careful while using network
If you are thinking of using a public terminal to shop online, think again. If you still want to go ahead with the public terminals, remember to log out every time. Even if you are doing something as simple as checking a mail, be attentive. Also always use trusted Wi-Fi connection or better a privatized one. Also inoculate your computer with antivirus software.

Tip 5: keep checking statements
Never wait for the month end to go and check your bank statements. Go regularly to check your statements i.e. your credit, debit statements. Keep checking your online shopping receipts via mail. Keep a check for any sort of changes in the statement. If you find anything inappropriate address the issue immediately.

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How To Stay Safe When Shopping On the Internet

Every Christmas, more and more people give up the hassle of doing their holiday gift shopping at the mall or big box department stores, and turn to the ease and convenience of the Internet to find the perfect gifts for everyone on their shopping list. Internet shopping is safe, simple, and direct. Here’s how to get the most out of your online holiday shopping experience.

Internet Safety

One of the major concerns keeping many people from shopping online is the threat of a cyber-thief getting a hold of their credit card or checking account information. The best way to protect yourself from this type of fraud is to make sure that you use reputable online retailers only. The online websites of major real-world retailers typically offer the same security as buying something in the store, and large web-based retailers like Amazon and Yahoo! Shopping take great care to ensure that their transactions are secure.

A reputable retailer will use some sort of encrypted transmission to carry your credit card information from your computer to their server. Check your web browser for the indication that your connection is secure. This is usually a padlock, an eye, or some other security-related icon.

If you find yourself connected to a website that looks suspicious, do some research on the retailer before typing in your credit card information. This can be as simple as opening up a new tab and Googling the name of the website. If some of the autofill suggestions are the company name and “fraud,” “scam,” or something similar, it might be in your best interests to find another online retailer.

Holiday Deals

Most, but not all, websites for major retailers will honor the same deals, sales, and specials that are offered in their brick-and-mortar stores. This makes the sale even more of a bargain for you, since you don’t have to waste time and gas in getting to the store. In addition, many online retailers offer free shipping if certain items are purchased, or if the total amount due is over a certain amount. Shipping costs are usually one advantage that stores in the mall have over their online counterparts, but if the shipping is free, that advantage no longer applies.

Be on the lookout when your weekly ads hit your newspaper or mailbox. Make sure the ad doesn’t have fine print stating “in-store only” or “while supplies last.” These phrases typically mean you won’t have much success in finding the deal online. Clearance items that are available in a store may not be available on their web site either.

E-Mail Subscriptions

If you plan to be an online power-shopper, it pays to subscribe to the various e-mail newsletters and online promotions that are available. Many of these subscription services are run by individual retailers as a form of targeted advertising, while others are grass-roots, ad-supported sites that operate by collecting and reviewing the various special offers available across the Internet. After all, a sale won’t do you any good if you never find out about it!

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