Tips for Online Christmas Shopping

I've been shopping online, for Christmas, for at least ten years.  I told someone about that five years ago.  He told me he would never, ever do that for security reasons.  When I told him his security for making an online purchase is about 100 times safer than at a local brick and mortar department store, he was singularly unimpressed.  Now, that same guy tells me he wouldn't shop any other way unless he needs something immediately.  To me, it beats the crowds at the mall, the shoving matches with other shoppers.  I just think it's old-fashioned (and coming from an old guy, that's saying something).  But, like with any transactions involving money, you have to be careful.  Be aware of a few things and you'll be ok.  Let's look at a few tips for a safe and productive online Christmas shopping experience.

1.  As mentioned above, security is usually higher online than checking out at Wal-Mart, Sears or any other walk-in store.  All your information is encrypted.  One thing to make sure of when you do make a purchase; make sure in the URL there is an httpS://.  I emphasized the "S" because that lets you know you are making an encrypted transaction.

2.  When you start to do online Christmas shopping, shop early.  Best time is on Cyber Monday (Monday after Black Friday) for the best deals and to get free shipping.  Shopping early will help you avoid disappointment for getting gifts too late. 

3.  Use credit cards instead of debit cards.  If there is a misunderstanding on the purchase, you are protected by Visa and Master Card.  There is no guarantee with a debit card.  Also, if somehow someone does get your credit card information, you are liable for the first $50.  With a debit card, you will be hard pressed to get all your money back.  In fact, you are not protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act with a debit card. 

4.  Shop at familiar name stores such as Wal-Mart, Sears, Amazon, eBay, etc.  There are a lot of scam artists this time of year that prey on the unwitting online Christmas shopper.  Absolutely do not, under any circumstances, accept any offers from a spam email advertisement.  You are 90% sure to lose your money.

5.  When you make a purchase, the online store usually sends an email giving your invoice number and other pertinent information.  However, just to be on the safe side, print out the information also for your records.  You might lose an email and will have nothing to prove you made the purchase.  Print out your transaction.

Online shopping, especially during Christmas, can be an enjoyable experience.  Just use common sense and these simple tips to avoid any disappointment or bad experiences.


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