10 Holidays Shopping Safety Tips

Holiday ShopperAh, the shopping season is here… again. Some of you probably already started your shopping spree. Hope everything’s going smooth.

I wrote this article last year, and decided to update some of the information here. You can see last year’s Holiday article here.

Surveying over 1,600 individuals, Webroot found the number of consumers planning to buy gifts online this season increased 46 percent from two years ago. The survey also revealed a number of behaviors that may put shoppers’ personal and financial information at risk. Among the key findings:

  • Over half (52 percent) of respondents frequently, if not always, use search engines to find gifts online
  • About two in five (38 percent) trust the first page of search results – a target for malicious links
  • Twelve percent are likely to use a public wireless access point to shop online for gifts

It is dangerous to rely on search engine results, and be careful using public wireless access points as your information can easily be compromised.

Here are 10 more tips for a safe and enjoyable shopping experience.

  1. Price Comparison Shopping – Without due diligence, you’re likely to get ripped off. Impulse buying is the number one no-no on the internet. Whether buying online or offline, I strongly recommend that you use a price comparison site. If you already have a particular product in mind, you’ll find the best prices in no time. There are many out there, but my favorites are:
    • PriceGrabber.com – For Americans
    • RedFlagDeals.com – For Canadians
    • PriceCanada.com – For Canadians. A great place to compare computer parts and electronics prices.
    • Shopbot.ca – Another one for Canadians
      • I use both PriceCanada.com and Shopbot.ca often, but I’m beginning to lean towards Shopbot.ca because it seems to return more results.
  2. Hehe… Naturally, there are more Canadian sites listed here because I’m in Canada. But I think PriceGrabber alone should do the trick in the States.

  3. Never Rush – Many scammers offer ‘too good to be true’ price for something you really want. Once you respond, their tactic is to close the deal as soon as possible. Scam artists want you to make a haste decision before you find out something’s up. Recent animal cases tell the story (dogs, horses, and birds).
  4. Do not use offline transaction methods – If you are shopping on, for example, eBay, do not use a non-integrated transaction method. This means no Western Union or Money Gram. Paypal is usually the best choice as it provides some level of protection. Most sellers will accept and prefer Paypal. Be suspicious if the seller wants you to send the money via a different method. By using an integrated solution or a trustable third-party (ie. escrow), you have a clear evidence of payment in case of a dispute.
  5. Don’t Pay for Satellite TV for PC Offers – This has been covered extensively here at SFI. In summary, they are all scams. If you are trying to surprise your husband with a ‘watch football in HD on PC’ program, he’ll be disappointed and trying to get it to work as expected will cause headaches. Read more here and here. For free alternatives, see here. And… list of scam sites here.
  6. Don’t Sign up for Free Acai Berry / Colon Cleanse Product Offers – Once you sign up for that $1.00 or free trial, you’re already on their subscription payment plan with ridiculous monthly payments. Read more here, and list of scam sites here. This category of scam slowed down a bit over the last year, but you should still be on the lookout.
  7. Make Sure the e-Store is Safe – There are many dangerous e-stores online. Sometimes, it’s not the store owner’s intention and sometimes it is. Look for SSL certificates. The URL will begin with “https” and a lock icon will appear on your browser’s bottom right corner (Firefox) or in the address bar (Opera and IE8). If there is a problem (i.e. expired) with the certificate, your browser will warn you. SSL will ensure that your personal information is sent across securely. With the proliferation of fraudulent online retailers over the past year, it is essential for consumers to check and double-check the validity of an SSL certificate.
  8. See what others are saying – Make sure the e-store is trustable. Do research on the store you’re about to deal with. If you can’t find any information regarding the store, it is likely very new and you should stay away if you want to play safe. Try one of these gadgets. (The gadgets weren’t working for a while, but I’ve fixed them) It may help you filter websites faster. This is also what these pages are for.
  9. Keep Your Computer Safe – You will likely hop from site to site looking for THE deal. With today’s online environment, it is highly likely that you will visit a malicious site once or twice. Make sure your computer is protected. Keep everything updated and use safety tips from this article.
  10. Research, research, research – Research is your best friend when it comes to shopping. it can be cumbersome if you have a lot of friends and family to please, but it will save you money and mitigate future headaches that can potentially arise from a bad purchase.
  11. Just to fill up the list to 10… Try to enjoy and don’t get too stressed. ^^

Happy Holidays and Safe Shopping Everyone!!

Have you started your holiday shopping?

  • Yes, I have started. (29%, 4 Votes)
  • No, it will be a while til I get started. (43%, 6 Votes)
  • No, but will get started soon. (29%, 4 Votes)
  • All done. Boo-yaa! (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

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