Tips for Safe Online Shopping this Holiday Season

People call it the holiday season, but retailers have a more lucrative name for it: gift giving season.

Or, more accurately: gift buying season. And that means whether you’re a Secret Santa or you need that perfect gift for that special someone (or that imperfect gift for that ordinary someone), you’re going to be hitting stores – along with zillions of other people – in the coming days and weeks.

However, if you can do without crowded parking lots, long line-ups, and dizzying selection of Christmas Songs (will someone please get Alvin the Chipmunk a hula hoop or before someone gets hurt?), then you just might be part of that other throng of people: online shoppers.

If so, then the Dayton Business Journal has some 10 “safe cyber shopping tips” for you to consider as you browse and click your way through the gift buying mania:

Protect your computer. Install the most recent updates for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall;

Shop on trustworthy Web sites. Check on sellers’ reputations and records for customer satisfaction at the BBB Web site. Always look for BBB seals and other widely-recognized trustmarks on retailer Web sites and click on seals to confirm they are valid;

Protect your personal information. Read the site’s privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it willl be used. If one isn’t posted, it should be taken as a red flag that personal information may be sold to others without permission;

Beware of deals sounding too-good-to-be-true. Offers on Web sites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too-good-to-be-true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Trust your instincts and do not be afraid to pass up a deal that might cost you in the end;

Beware of phishing. Legitimate businesses do not send e-mails claiming problems with orders or accounts to lure you into revealing financial information. If you receive such an e-mail, call the company’s contact number on the Web site where the purchase was made to confirm there really is a problem with the transaction;

Confirm online purchases are secure. Look in the address box for the “s” in http:// and the lower-right corner for the lock symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, right-click anywhere on the page and select “Properties”

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