March 3, 2024

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Online Shopping: What To Watch For This Holiday Season

Online shopping is quickly approaching the half a trillion dollar a year mark. That’s a lot of commerce going on! You can find not almost anything online… but everything. If it’s sellable, you can bet it’s somewhere on the web.

From all of this selling and transacting going on, you can rest assured there’s going to be trouble ranging with everything from credit card fraud, identity theft, spyware uploading and just plain theft.

Online shopping, for the most part, is the easiest and the safest way to shop. By being aware and alert you can find incredible deals and save tons of money.

Online shopping provides:

– Better chances for safe and secure shopping

– Online professional customer service

– Unlike auctions, returns and refunds are welcomed

– No need to bid on items and spend more than you expected

– Items and products delivered immediately

– Emergency Gifts for friends, spouses, family and business associates

– Gifts delivered directly to 3rd party recipients

– Security of buyer protection from credit and debit cards

– Ability to shop anytime 24/7 at your convenience

– Avoidance of hustle and bustle of indoor or outdoor malls

– Precious time saving and ability shop from home or any location

– Less travel and energy consumption

– Better deals and bargains from larger retail and store selections

As you can see, the pros to online shopping are phenomenal. However, when you watch and pay attention to the following, you will undoubtedly have the best experiences with your shopping.

Credit Card Security
You really don’t know who is viewing your credit card information with online shopping. As we all know, credit card numbers, social security numbers, addresses, telephone numbers and other sensitive personal information can wreak havoc in the wrong hands. When shopping online check for security. When in doubt, check with sites like The Better Business Bureau – http://www.bbb.org, Hacker Safe – http://www.hackersafe.com, PayPal’s Shopping Security Tips – http://www.paypal.com, Federal Trade Commission Shop Online Safely – http://www.ftc.gov. It is always good practice to get the most information you can about the store or retailer you’re about to do business with.

Online Payment Security
Make sure anytime you use your credit card online that it is transferred on a secure sever. You will notice the site address beginning with https:// and will have a graphic of lock at the bottom of your computer screen. Do not ever send credit or sensitive personal information over unsecured severs.

Privacy and Terms of Use Policies
It’s a good idea to actually read the privacy and terms of use policies on web sites. I know they appear to be a mumble of legal jargon, but you can get a good idea of how your information will or can be used. Most reputable retailers will not sell your email or confidential information because of issues that can later come back to haunt them. If you do not wish your email to be used for spam or blanket marketing, send the retailer a note from their contact page making your wishes clear that you want your email and personal information private.

Return and Refund Policies
You should know up front about the policies for returns and refunds if you are not happy with or would like to cancel a purchase. Professional retail web sites will have a customer service section outlining returns, refunds, shipping, taxes, international orders, warranties and a store FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). Reading policy information before making purchases are sure to make everyone happy!

Contact
Be on alert when a site does not have a contact page or section. When you see email addresses ending with free service extensions like hotmail, yahoo, gmail or to the affect, send them a message asking them for a telephone number, contact name, address, then check for validity before making purchases. This will give you a beginning trail should something go wrong.

Order Confirmations
Look for a confirmation of sale after purchases. After your credit card has been charged, the confirmation receipt should display promptly or emailed to you directly. It is recommended you print out your confirmation receipts and keep for your records. It will show date, time, place of purchase and give you good backup.

Retailer Background
If you are ready to purchase from a retailer that you have not conducted business with, check with the Better Business Bureau and check for shopper reviews. You can find reviews by conducting a search on your favorite search engine, Google, Yahoo, etc., and enter XYZ company review. If there are any, they will appear and you can read success to horror stories where you can make informed decisions for your purchases. If the review is bad, contact the retailer and ask questions. If they do not answer promptly or to your satisfaction, skip them and move on.

Delivery Times
When purchasing items, be sure you know how your product will be delivered. Delivery fees can vary, with overnight being the most expensive. The standard is 2nd of 3rd day UPS. Also, when having gifts or products sent to a third party it is a good idea to let the recipient know something is on the way so they can be on the look out. Be sure the delivery service has a tracking function so if any problems occur you can search and track your product effectively.

Site Reviews and Testimonials
Reviews and testimonials are a great way to find out experiences from others. You can use the reviews to know what to expect and have an outside contact to ask questions.

Site Function and Offerings
The web site you are shopping on should be easy to navigate and find what you’re looking for. Site designs widely vary, but the presentation should be clean and clear. Load times vary with high usage, Internet connections and information contained on pages. Sites that load moderately are fine, depending on your patience. If you have suggestions or recommendation about the site, contact the site’s webmaster or customer service department. They will be glad to hear from you.

Be aware and alert this holiday and you will have the perfect gift giving and receiving season.