Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Web Hints Wednesday - Shop Securely Online This Christmas

What's the first thing you think about when you go online to shop? Do you think about anything other than what you're searching for? Who you're shopping for? Who much it's going to cost you?

Should you blithely carry on and buy from the first place you find that's offering what you surmise is the best deal? Or should you stop and think for a moment? In these times of click/fast shopping, the temptation is to carry on at full speed and purchase from the place that offers you the best price.

I'm in agreement with this up to a point, obviously, the shopper today is king and you deserve every bargain you can find, however let me lend a still small voice of caution (apologies) at this time of grab-it-at-the-best-price-while-you-can.

The best prices, by far the best choice and the easiest way of finding both are without queestion to be found online. As a self-confessed online shopping addict and author of seven books on where to shop online I've become something of an expert.

It's estimated that about 93% of us are going to be shopping online this Christmas and more and more nowadays I'm counselling just a bit more hesitation before flashing the plastic. Not because I think you're going to be daft enough to flash it just anywhere, but because it's become all too easy, too fast, too thought-free.

Having said that, no longer do you need to park the car, struggle through the queues and carry loads of outsize or heavy bags back home. If you have any sense, in my opinion, you're going to sit back with a glass of wine and wait for everything to come to you.

Here are my Top Ten Tips to shopping securely this Christmas:

Never shop from anywhere where the top line of your browser doesn't change to https://, and the padlock doesn't appear when you're about to check out.

Know who you're dealing with; Make sure that the seller's landline phone number and postal address are easily accessible. If not, ask yourself; 'why are they trying to hide from me?'

Shop from household names or where you find the ISIS (Internet Shopping is Safe) banner, Vericode by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode, also where you can see customer reviews held on an independent site and linked fromthe retailer's Home Page.

Make sure that your anti-virus software is totally up to date. If you're not sure what you need to do take a look at Norton from http://www.symantecstore.com/ one of the most popular and easy to use anti-virus suites.

Be aware of terms and conditions; check payment, delivery and returns details. Know the facts before you buy.

Keep records of everything you order. Absolutely everything, within your email folders or in print.

Only give your payment card details over a secure connection and never by email. Never disclose your PIN number to anyone. Be wary of emails asking for any account details, these may be attempts at identity fraud.

Check your payment card statement carefully, you have at least 90 days to report a suspect transaction but check as soon as possible.

Use strong passwords which contain both letters and numbers, and use different passwords.

If in doubt at all, don't buy.

Finally, remember this. If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. Sales, discounts, voucher codes and bargains aside, we've entered the era of the basement bargain bonanza. Don't allow yourself to get taken advantage of.

Happy Christmas Shopping from http://www.thesiteguide.com/