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  • WRITTEN BY Jorge Rojas POSTED ON November 30,2011

Still haven’t found all the right gifts for this holiday season? You are on your own there – but we CAN help ensure a safe online shopping experience. Internet shopping has become widely popular over the years, and this year retailers have seen a big increase in mobile transactions as well. Consumers can skip the lines and the crowds and save a lot of cash in the process. Online shopping is generally safe, although there are a few tips you’ll want to be aware of before going virtual shopping this holiday season.

Be Sure It Is a Trusted Site

When dealing with big names like www.amazon.com and the online sites of big retail outlets you are typically in good hands, but be a little wary when shopping somewhere you don’t recognize. One of the simplest and non-technical ways to check if a site is legit is by doing some very quick research. Reseller Ratings.com and Bizrate.com let users review and rate online shopping experiences.

Lookout for Prechecked Offers

Just like brick and mortar retailers trying to get you to opt in for expensive warranty or buy-back services, online retailers might try to opt you into special offers. Don’t hurry through the forms – you might sign up for something you didn’t want and end up paying for it in the long run.

Document Your Purchase

Although most sites email you a statement of what you purchased, it doesn’t hurt to document it yourself. Copying and Pasting everything (especially the transaction summary) into a Word document could be handy. Don’t forget you can take screenshots and past them into your Word document by either using the PrtScn key on your keyboard, Microsoft OneNote’s screen capture tool (Windows key + S if you have OneNote), or the Windows 7 Snipping Tool (Start Menu > All Programs > Accessories > Snipping Tool). Be sure to document the date you made the purchase and the expected delivery, and what should be included. On top of that, be sure to take down the web address, vendor name, address and telephone number.

Watch your Credit Cards

Keep track of your credit card statement for any mystery charges. Although in the grand scheme of things it is rare, sometimes vendors get hijacked and customer credit card information gets stolen. Keep an eye on it and be prepared to challenge any unauthorized fees or other charges.

On top of that, be sure to read the site’s privacy, return, and refund policies, and above all else, trust your instincts! If the site gives you a bad feeling in your gut, leave it. If prices seem too good to be true on popular consumer electronics ($85 iPad 2s, anyone?) then it probably is.

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