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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Prepare for Cyber Monday!

With Black Friday out of the way, it's time to focus on Cyber Monday. Some stores have actually already started their Cyber Monday sales. Before you go clicking around on the best deals, check out these tips for shopping online.

Know who you're dealing with. Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name. Confirm the online seller's physical address and phone number in case you have questions or problems. If you get an email or pop-up message while you're browsing that asks for financial information, don't reply or click on the link in the message. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via email.

Know what it will cost. Check out websites that offer price comparisons and then, compare "apples to apples." Factor shipping and handling — along with your needs and budget — into the total cost of the order. Do not send cash under any circumstances.

Pay by credit or charge card. If you pay by credit or charge card online, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Under this law, you have the right to dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor is investigating them. In the event of unauthorized use of your credit or charge card, you generally would be held liable only for the first $50 in charges. Some companies offer an online shopping guarantee that ensures you will not be held responsible for any unauthorized charges made online, and some cards may provide additional warranty, return, and/or purchase protection benefits.

Keep a paper trail. Print and save records of your online transactions, including the product description and price, the online receipt, and copies of every email you send or receive from the seller. Read your credit card statements as you receive them and be on the lookout for unauthorized charges.

Don't email your financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting financial information like your credit card, checking account, or Social Security number. If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your financial information through an organization's website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser's status bar or a URL for a website that begins "https:" (the "s" stands for "secure"). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some fraudulent sites have forged security icons.

Look for coupons. Not only are coupons good in-store, but many shops also take your coupon online. Having a coupon for an extra 20% off your purchase could make a significant difference in your spending (and savings).

Keep track of your spending. Clicking store to store can easily add up when you add in the shipping factor. Be sure to keep track of your spending as you go so that you don't end up overspending.

To see more tips visit the Homemaker Hero HERE