On Thanksgiving every year there’s chatter at each house we visit about what store is going to have the best prices on black Friday for their personal shopping lists. As much as I love to shop, the older I get, the less interest I have in tackling the crazy crowds on Black Friday. And what I learned is that some of the deals are good, some are great, but there’s nothing better than shopping from the comfort of my recliner.
I have been successful over the last few years in finding everything on my holiday shopping list at the online sites of my favorite stores. In many instances stores offer the same deals and free shipping on their websites. For example, on one website I visited, they were offering 40% off your entire purchase for 6 hours only, as well as free shipping. The deals vary from day to day so I keep a constant eye out for daily specials, especially during the holidays.
Because online shopping is my choice for clearing my holiday list, I’ve learned to take precautions to protect myself and my bank and credit card accounts, though there are no guarantees these days with hackers finding their way into places that are believed to be heavily secured. There are ways to play it safe when shopping online.
- Use familiar websites. Start your search for items on trusted websites, rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results can be rigged to lead you astray, especially when you drift past the first few pages of links.
- Look for the lock. You should never buy from an online site that doesn’t have an SSL (secure sockets layers) encryption installed at the very least. You’ll know if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP://). An icon of a locked padlock will appear, typically in the status bar at the bottom of your browser, or right next to the URL in the address bar. This will depend on your browser.
- Don’t tell all. No online shopping store needs your social security number or your birthday to do business. However, if crooks get them combined with your credit card number for purchases, they can do a lot of damage. The more they know about you, the easier it is to steal your identity.
- Check you billing statements. Don’t wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly during the holiday season and look at electronic statements for your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. Make sure you don’t see any fraudulent charges.
Whether you shop online or at the brick and mortar, be sure to keep an eye out on your accounts at all times, not just during the holidays. I prefer only buying from sites that offer PayPal as a payment option. Even still I check to make sure all charges through my PayPal account are for purchases that my husband or I have made.
Let’s face it, there’s every reason in the world to shop online. The bargains are there. The selection is mind-boggling. Shipping is fast, and returns for me have always been easy. Save yourself from the crowds, stay warm and comfortable in your favorite chair with your favorite holiday beverage. Shop until you clear your shopping list or until you reach your shopping budget, then sit back and wait for the packages to be delivered. Then let the gift-wrapping begin. Share your favorite secure shopping sites and the bargains you found online.