With the shops gearing up for Christmas it can be tempting to avoid the crush and craziness and sit in front of the biggest shopping centre in the world – the internet.
With a bit of planning, it can be very satisfying to sit in a nice warm room ticking items off your gift list without lugging things around and trekking from shop to shop. Your chosen gifts arrive at your door with hardly any effort and you can pat yourself on the back for being organised and superb time-management!
That is, as long as you don’t suddenly discover your credit or debit card details have been stolen or your chosen gifts simply don’t arrive.
The big ‘names’ are usually a safe bet, but there are some real bargains to be had on other sites – that you may not have heard of before. It’s easy to get hooked in at Christmas, especially when you’re tempted by lots of festive goodies. Here are a few basic tips to ensure you shop as safely as possible this Christmas:
- Make sure that any page asking you to provide credit or debit card information has a URL that starts with https and shows a little padlock icon to show it’s a secure site.
- Don’t attempt to shop from emails that arrive unsolicited in your inbox – clicking links on emails can be dangerous. If you hover over a link you should be able to see if the link showing bears any resemblance to the link in the email text.
- If in doubt check the company out online – there are websites such as www.bizrate.com and www.epinions.com that will help you to weed out the companies that are not for real.
- Keep your web browser up to date. Firefox, Chrome and Safari will normally flag up when there are updates; Internet Explorer doesn’t always and you may need to do a regular check on their website for updates. This will help to protect you from dodgy sites.
- Before you buy, check how their complaint system works. Can you get in touch with them directly or are you routed through endless, frustrating FAQs, that don’t answer your question? Is there an email or, better still, a telephone number you can contact them at.
A good rule of thumb to follow is – if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Do your homework and check it out thoroughly.