We are quickly approaching that time of the year where the Internet pays off in spades - the holidays. Here's a primer on protecting yourself while buying online.
Avoiding the Malls
I hate going to the malls during the holidays. They are packed with people, elbows are flying and I inevitably get in line behind the person who needs a price check or lost their checkbook. Thankfully, the Internet has largely solved this problem.
Millions of people now do most or all of their holiday shopping online. Frankly, it is hard to imagine how many brick and mortar stores stay in business. While shopping from your desk is great, you need to keep in mind the following legal cautions.
Don't Buy Off An Email
In a few weeks, you are going to get bombarded by emails from businesses. Unfortunately, there is no way to be sure the email messages are actually from the business in question. Phishing scam artists have become masters at kicking out email messages that look extremely authentic. If you get an email message and want to visit a site, do not click the link in the email message. Instead, type the site domain name directly into a browser or find it through a search engine. Doing so will get you to the real site, not a fake.
Most people have multiple credit cards and use them willy nilly. When shopping online, try to limit all of your charges to one credit card that doesn't have a massive credit line on it. Also, print out all receipts. If a scam artist gets a hold of your credit card information, this should limit the damage. When you receive the credit card statement, make sure to check the charges against your receipts. If you find unauthorized charges, report them immediately.
Sites selling products online have to comply with "prompt delivery" rules. To this end, sites are encouraged, but not required to tell you how long it will take to deliver products. In addition, they absolutely must deliver within 30 days unless stated otherwise on the site. When ordering gifts, make sure you note how long it is going to take to receive the item. If you are going out of town, make sure you keep the departure date in mind before you leave.
The Internet is a godsend when it comes to avoiding the stress of holiday shopping. Just keep an eye on those credit card statements!