Online Shopping Tips

Many of us will be avoiding the hassle of holiday shopping by buying online. This also has potential disadvantages – here are some tips on how to avoid them from

Update your software. Your computer’s firewall, internet browser, anti-virus and anti-spyware programs offer some protection against the viruses and other malware, but you’ll need to keep them current with the latest updates and patches.

Shop from a trusted computer. Experts agree that it’s best to avoid internet cafes and kiosks in public places when you’re placing an order because someone could be “listening in” on your connection, or they could retrieve the information you’ve sent. Stick to your home computer where you control the settings and the security of the connection.

Deal with sites you trust, and pay on secure servers. It may look like a single website, but when you place an order you should be on a secure server rather than the “public” one. How can you tell? Look for the padlock or key icon at the bottom of your browser window and “https” instead of “http” in the URL string. Look closely — an open padlock or broken key means you aren’t on a secure server.

Finally, check beforehand to see how the company will protect your information. Guard your privacy. Even when you’re just browsing companies can collect valuable marketing information about what you look at and purchase. Look for the privacy policy or “terms of use” page. Some internet browsers like Safari have a “Private Browsing” function too, so it’s worth checking out the features.

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