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How to Purchase Safely Online

You can make online purchases and view your bank accounts online without making yourself an obvious candidate for identity theft. While there is always going to be a risk, there are simple steps you can take to prevent becoming a victim yourself while enjoying the conveniences the Internet has to offer.

If possible, acquire a specific credit card for online use only.

Online shopping offers the best selection, the greatest discounts, easy comparison shopping, prompt order-filling and even free shipping in many cases. It's a lot easier to type a phrase into Google and scrutinize twenty stores that have a selection than it is to get into your car and drive all over town hoping you'll find what you're looking for.

Many retailers suggest their customers check out the websites when their brick and mortar stores don't have what they're looking for in stock. Shipping takes just a few days and, often, companies fulfill online orders before supplying their stores.

Online stores even offer gift-wrapping and direct delivery should you choose to purchase a gift at their site and want it sent directly to the recipient you have in mind.

Most online shopping sites are perfectly safe, but some cannot be trusted. It's important to use caution when shopping online and follow the guidelines listed below.
  • Shop only with stores that you're familiar with and that you find to be trustworthy.
  • Don't click "yes" when the website offers to keep your credit card number on file. It's safer to enter it every time you place an order.
  • If possible, acquire a specific credit card for online use only: that way if the number does get compromised, your other cards won't be affected.
  • Make sure the gold lock symbol in the lower right corner is visible and "locked." Additionally, make sure that the website address at the top left says "https" instead of "http." The "s" tells you you're on a secured page.
  • Pick an excellent password-one that uses letters, number and symbols. Stay away from dictionary defined words, using acronyms and other letter and number combinations instead. Just be sure it's something you can remember.
The internet offers a valuable shopping experience. With just a few keystrokes, you can comparison shop and find just what you need at the lowest cost available. Often, there are special coupons, sales and special offers made available only to online customers.

Should something go wrong, it's important to make note of how to contact the company you order from when you place your order-simply jot down the offered telephone number or address. Also, check out the return/refund policy and shipping costs before you place your order.

When you've made your purchase, print out your receipt should it be needed in the future.

Be cautious about your privacy and credit card number, but do use a credit card; it's safer than a check or money order.

Additionally, be sure to use the "customer service" options at the website you're ordering from. They will usually provide an email address for you to send questions; they may also have a customer service telephone line to help answer questions.

If a website doesn't have a "privacy policy," you probably shouldn't order from them. Read the privacy policy and if their policy bothers you, check to see if you can choose whether or not to let them collect information on you. Many websites let you check a box if you don't want them to save or share information.

Websites work hard to make your shopping experience safe and pleasant. They want you to return and feel secure about ordering from them. Online ordering is a handy, convenient method for you to get what you want and for a business to get their merchandise noticed and sold. It's a win-win for everyone, as long as you take a few reasonable precautions. Have fun shopping!

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