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San Clemente Journal

Christmas Shopping on the Internet

Nov 01, 2009 11:13AM ● By Don Kindred

by Roby LaPorte

It’s Christmas time again, and the Internet is ready to make shopping from home safer and easier than ever before.

Last year consumers spent $26 billion online according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, so if we think we’re alone buying online, we’re not, and there is power in numbers. 

Internet shopping is so hugely popular these days because of the incredible convenience; no crowded malls, no fighting traffic, shopping anytime day or night and the massive amounts of choices the Internet has to offer. 

However, a survey commissioned by the National Consumers League shows that many people are still a bit worried that their personal information may fall into the wrong hands. The two major concerns are that Credit Card numbers will get stolen and /or personal information will be stolen as well. Of course, there is some validity to these common fears. However, there are simple things we can do to help protect ourselves from the “hackers” of the world. 

Use these tips and you will have much success.

Always use a credit card!
Credit cards are the safest way to pay because you have the legal right to dispute charges for goods or services that were never ordered, never received, or misrepresented. PayPal, now owned by the EBay Company, is the most used environment for online purchasing and the one most recommended by the Internet community.

Look for the SSL Key in the address bar of your browser!
When you provide payment information, the “http” at the beginning of the address bar should change to “https” or “shttp.” Your browser may use a symbol, like a padlock in the baseline bar, to show whether the information is being encrypted as it is being sent. Never provide sensitive information by email … ever. Email is NOT secure.

Ask you bank about “substitute” or “single-use” credit card numbers
Some credit card companies and banks now provide “substitute” or “single-use” numbers that are merely linked to your account that you can use for one purchase only. Since you never put your real account number online, your financial information is safe from abuse by “hackers” or dishonest company employees.

Gather all pertinent information
A great deal of people think they have three days to cancel an online purchase. There is no automatic cancellation right, so get all the details before you buy: a complete description of the items; the total price, including shipping; the delivery time; warranty information; the return policy; and what to do if you have problems.

Print out your Receipts
All legitimate sellers on the internet will do one of two things, or both. After completing the purchase, they will take you to a receipt page and/or send an email receipt. Print a hard copy and file the information in case you need proof later
Follow these few rules and your online purchasing will be a jolly one!

If you are having trouble deciding what to give your family and friends this year, you need to try for incredible help. Answer a few questions, like the age of your gift recipient, their interests, personality and lifestyle types and they sift through billions of gift options and come up with a great many selections to choose from. The matches give you the company that sells the item, a slight description of the products, how much it will cost and where on the net to go get it at a great price. It’s really fun to see what gifts it selects; you discover things you didn’t even know existed.

There are also the usual Internet retailers to browse, like, EBay,,,, and many, many others found easily with your favorite search engine.

As the World Wide Web continues to grow at the speed of light, new ideas and technological advances are making the information highway better and safer everyday.
That’s a great Christmas gift in itself.