Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Monica Faram

October 2, 2011

Monica Faram: Tips for safe online shopping

I have a confession. Most of you already know, but I am not a fan of any Texas football teams. I like this team in Oklahoma that wears crimson and cream.

But seeing as I am surrounded by burnt orange, Aggie maroon and red and black, I find it hard to find that proper shade of red I strongly desire.

So while my husband and I hoped to bring our baby home from the hospital in a little cheerleader outfit, we quickly discovered that we would not be able to do that ... short of taking a trip to Oklahoma to find one.

Internet to the rescue.

I jumped online and started searching for the perfect little outfit.

Shopping online is a common occurrence for my family and myself. Not only can you find things you might not other places, you can also find common items at a lesser price.

It’s a constantly growing trend, one that’s been taking off ever since the first person thought of creating eBay.

A report from the Census said that U.S. retail e-commerce sales reached $167.4 billion in 2009.

In the first quarter of this year, sales were already at $43.7 billion. Total retail sales for the second quarter were estimated at $47.5 billion. So we are well on our way to beating the 2009 total.

The leading merchandise category for electronic shopping? Clothing and clothing accessories with $19.5 billion in sales in 2009. Not a huge surprise.

Gone are the days of packing up the family car and heading to Walmart when you want something specific.

Now you can curl up on the couch in your pajamas and shop to your heart’s content ... 24/7.

The No. 1 drawback to shopping online is identity theft, which is a worry to most who might otherwise shop online.

Here are a few tips for safe online shopping:

• Use a credit card instead of a debit card. Under federal law, credit card issuers can only hold customers liable for the first $50 of fraudulent transactions, and it’s not drawing directly from your bank account.

• Shop websites that offer alternative payment. Some sites will accept payments from PayPal, a secure website that never reveals your card information to the seller.

• Shop sites you trust. As tempting as it sounds, avoid search engine shopping, where you find which site offers the cheapest product. Some of these sites might not be secure. If you really want that deal, do a little research before you input your card information and hit send.

• Verify the security of the website you’re shopping. When you’re on a site, look at the URL in the toolbar.

Once you enter the shopping cart on a website, a secure URL will begin with https:// instead of just http://. That “s” means it is secure. It will also have a small lock icon somewhere in the browser window.

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Monica Faram
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