Christmas Shopping Online {And Safe Cyber Shopping Tips!}

I never used to like shopping online. I hated paying for shipping and waiting for my packages to be delivered. I liked touching what I was thinking about purchasing before I spent money and taking my finds home from the stores.

A couple months back I received some Amazon e-cards and I had been holding on to them for Holiday shopping. The week of Black Friday I put them into my Amazon account and took a look around the site. I discovered some great prices on things I had planned on buying for Christmas. I put a few items in my online shopping cart and then a little box about Amazon Prime came up. After reading about it I got excited because I could get shipping free and it would only take two days to arrive. I signed up for my free trial of Amazon Prime and was relieved that I had started my shopping early this year.

I have to say that I have fallen in love with Amazon Prime and won’t be cancelling it. I love that I don’t have to put a minimum amount in my cart so I’ve been watching for deals and crossing things off my list as I see them. And I haven’t just limited myself to Amazon. I’ve shopped Walmart Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and chosen site-to-store so all I have to do is run in and pick up my packages when they arrive. I also have shopped sales at Kohls, Old Navy, The Children’s Place, and Osh’Kosh Bgosh- all of which had amazing sales.

With all of the amazing sales online, some better than what I’ve seen in stores, I’ve been able to finish most of my Christmas shopping with only having to go into one store. Now that gifts for everyone else were handled it was time to shop for myself. I had been wanting a SLR camera since I was in high school and I told myself that I would finally get one this year. I decided I wanted a Canon Rebel T3i so I searched online because I wanted to find the best price I could. I typed in “Canon Rebel T3i prices” on Google to see if I could easily find a price comparison site. Towards the top was a link to cnet.com which is a reputable technology review site. Along with the review of the camera they gave a list of about 20 online sites that sold the camera and their prices.

Most of the prices were pretty similar with some sites being hundreds higher. The lowest one was about $530, $70 less than the average. I clicked through to the BPPhoto site without even thinking about it because the site I was on was well-known and I figured they wouldn’t be linking to a site that wasn’t trustworthy. While they didn’t have the camera that I wanted in stock, I looked around at what other items I did have since they had great prices on lenses and other camera accessories. I find that I am leery of sites that offer products for a reduced rate so I also checked for signs that the site was secure. I noticed that the site had a security validated button and a 30 day money back guarantee which is nice to have when making an online purchase and made me feel like this was an online retailer that I could trust.

In the end I ended up going with Amazon.com and buying a Rebel T3 {not T3i} because I found the best price on that site. 2-day shipping was free, I got 2% of my purchase back in Amazon credits, I got a free camera bag and memory card, and I got an extra lens for $150 off {which made it only $7}. I was so excited about the deal I found during the Cyber Monday sale and can’t wait to use my new camera to take pictures!

Are you shopping online this Christmas season? Here are some cyber shopping tips, courtesy of Trend Micro, to keep in mind:

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU CLICK:

1. Go with What You Know: Bookmark reliable online shopping sites, as search engines like Google can lead you to malicious sites.

2. Go with Your Instinct: Ignore suspicious emails and spam offering huge discounts and bargains as they may contain malicious links and file attachments.

3. If It’s too Good to be True It Usually is: Spam and online ads that offer mind-boggling promos and discounts can lead to web threats.

4. Double, Triple Confirm: Check a payment site’s URL. Phishers trick users into giving out personal information via spoofed pages. Two of the most commonly phished sites are eBay and PayPal.

5. Tried and True: Use reliable security software that helps you avoid visiting comprised sites.

6. Buyer Beware: Never use a payment method that does not offer any kind of buyer protection. Wire transfers and money orders are therefore off the table as there is no way of getting your money back. Pay with a credit card as it offers better protection.

7. Keep It Private: Don’t shop in a public “hot spot” or in places with unsecure networks. Limit online shopping to when you are at home, this assures uninterrupted and safe sessions.

8. Spot the Obvious: Legitimate banking or e-commerce sites’ URLs usually begin with https not http. The padlock icon at the lower right or near the address bar (depending on your browser) is also a good indicator of site’s security.

9. Keep Records: Always keep your transaction records to track your online purchases and avoid becoming a victim of online scams and other kinds of fraud.

10. Stay Aware: Stringently check your credit card billing statements to monitor all of your transactions. Immediately report any discrepancies to your bank.

 

(Disclosure: As a Trend Micro Digital Joneses family I received a gift card to shop online with but all thoughts are my own.)