Safe cyber shopping

Posted Nov. 24, 2010, at 10:07 p.m.

With Cyber Monday kicking off the official start of the 2010 holiday shopping season, comparison search engine has released 10 things every online shopper should follow to ensure a safe, secure and, most of all, productive shopping experience as they comb the Internet for gifts this year.

  • Update your home computer’s anti-virus software and security tools before you start shopping, and if using a wireless connection, make sure it’s encrypted with a password.
  • Be thorough in your research: Use all the resources the Internet provides, compare prices and search for online-only bargains to guarantee that you’re saving money.
  • Order in advance to ensure you don’t get hurt by holiday shipping delays, and check stock availability for a given product before you place an order.
  • Use credit cards instead of debit cards — you’ll be better protected from fraud and face less liability in the event of your card number being stolen.
  • Carefully review every online retailer’s terms and conditions as well as their return policies, as they vary industry-wide.
  • Create or update new online passwords that are unique and difficult to steal. Avoid pet names, birthdays, etc. and incorporate numbers and characters.
  • Shop only on certifiably secure websites: Look for “https://” URLs that indicate secure connections when placing orders and entering personal information.
  • Be diligent about where you disclose personal information. including phone numbers, addresses and financial information, and avoid unverifiable entities.
  • Look for delivery guarantees from online retailers and always keep hard copies of e-mail confirmations of orders and delivery status.
  • Beware of certain promotional e-mails requesting personal information or promising a special deal as they could be part of a “phishing” scam.