Thursday, December 6, 2012

Safe Holiday Shopping Online

By Ryan Law


Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone and according to the stats, it appears it was (another) record-breaking weekend:


·         The National Retail Federation reports that we spent about $52 billion on Black Friday.[i]

·         IBM, who tracks online transaction sales, reported that we spent between $1.5 and $2 billion on Cyber Monday.[ii]

I personally am not a big fan of Black Friday, especially now that it is creeping onto Thanksgiving. I went through the ads and nothing really jumped out at me (except a ShopVac that I bought from Lowe’s, on Black Friday, but I purchased it online and they shipped it for free to my house), and I am not a fan of standing in line for hours in the cold or being trampled or assaulted by people fighting over a phone, but that’s beside the point.


Today’s Tip is about the remaining shopping that you will be doing. A lot of people will shop online for gifts, and I want to make sure you do so safely.


Here are five tips for sale holiday online shopping:


1.       Be sure the website’s purchase page is secure. It doesn’t matter if the rest of the site is secure or not, but be sure the page where you enter your credit card is secure. Here’s how you can tell – the browser should say https instead of http, and you should see a lock icon somewhere on the page. Here is what the sales page looks like:



You can see both the https and the lock icon, which means it is a secure page.

2.       Don’t purchase items from e-mails unless you can verify where they came from. I get deals in my inbox from Walmart, Target, Amazon and many other reputable companies. E-mail marketing is cheap and effective. However, I also get deals like this one:

“Get the New 32GB iPad Sold for $31.08!”

This is from an e-mail send by “Adison Greg” from some website that no one has ever heard of. When you get those emails don’t click any links in them, including the “unsubscribe” link. Delete them immediately! They are Spam and many have some kind of virus. If you don’t click on them you will be safe.

3.       Use your credit card to purchase online. Never trust a website that doesn’t accept credit cards, or that encourages you to pay using Western Union or something like that. Your credit card has protection built in, as do websites like PayPal. If you never receive the item, you can file a dispute and your credit card company won’t charge you for the item.

4.       This is a tip I almost learned the hard way – I got an email saying that my purchase of 2 Nexus 7 tablets being sent to California from Walmart had been cancelled because they couldn’t verify the shipping address.  Concerned, I logged into my Walmart account and sure enough, there was an order for two Nexus 7 tablets that were scheduled to be sent to some random address in California. After doing some research I found that this isn’t uncommon – hackers get into the databases of these websites and can try to order things using your account. This only works if your credit card is stored on the website., for example, stores your card without asking if you want it stored – they do it automatically.

I immediately changed my password and deleted my credit card from their system. I no longer store credit cards on any websites – it only takes a minute to enter the card number and I feel more secure that way. Each time I purchase on now I immediately go to my account and delete the credit card number.

5.       Consider purchasing pre-paid shopping cards to purchase online. I know some people don’t like to use their personal credit card online, so they purchase pre-paid shopping cards and use that for all their Holiday shopping. A bonus is that you can set your limit and not spend any more than that.

Like many of you I do quite a bit of online shopping and will continue to do so. If you will follow today’s tips (especially tips 1-4) you can shop online with confidence.


Ryan H. Law, M.S., CFP®, AFC®


Personal Financial Planning Department

Office for Financial Success Director

University of Missouri Center on Economic Education Director


162 Stanley Hall

University of Missouri

Columbia, MO 65211


573.882.9211 (office)

573.884.8389 (fax)



spotdeals said...

This is really one of the best and proper information shared with us regarding to online shopping .I think this effective tips and tricks , suggestions may attracts and guides millions of online shoppers, i m very much impressed and looking forward to it.I think is one of the suitable option for shopping online in India.

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Jake Alexander said...

Thank you for sharing these tips. They are very informative and helpful. Another important aspect of online shopping is using a good shipping company. The company I have been using has been great and I have no home direct complaints to speak of.

Jamie Viggiano said...

The most convenient and cost-efficient way is to use prepaid shopping cards. Not only do you have shopping limitations, you don't even have to worry about your account being hacked. Your tips are the most practical thing that I have read online about how to safely purchase items online. Plus, a reminder to everyone buying online, always delete your credit card number on your account. Don't give anyone the opportunity to use it and have a shopping-spree at your expense.j