According to one estimate, Christmas holiday sales online are expected to total about $32 billion this year. This represents a 9 percent increase in online spending at a time when other sales are expected to remain flat.
Online shoppers need to be as savvy about safety while shopping as their “bricks and mortar” counterparts are. Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis Professor James P. Nehf offers this “Top Five Ways to Safely Shop Online” list.
1. Use a secure Internet connection. Look for an unbroken key or closed lock in your browser, or for a web address that begins “https” instead of “http.”
2. Buy from retailers that you trust. If you don't know the retailer, do a Google or Yahoo search, or go to bbbonline.org to get information about the company's reputation.
3. Use a credit card rather than a debit/check card. If your credit card information is stolen, you can complain to the card issuer who will investigate and take the charge off. If your debit card information is stolen, your bank account can be wiped out.
4. Do not purchase from a Web site that you found by clicking on a link in an e-mail. The e-mail could be a “phishing” scam involving a shadow site that looks legitimate, but is designed to steal your personal information.
5. Keep your virus software up to date. Malicious software can not only affect your computer's performance, but some types can steal personal data. The risk is greater if you connect to the Internet through cable or DSL.
Nehf is chair of the consumer subcommittee of the Cyberspace Committee of the American Bar Association’s business law section. He teaches contracts, consumer law and commercial law at the law school that is located on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) campus.
To interview Nehf, contact Diane Brown by phone: 317-274-2195 (office), 317-371-4037 (cell); or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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