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How to safely use online shopping during the holiday season

8 Dec 2014 | Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

The season for giving is here. Online shopping is a great and easy way to buy holiday gifts without battling long lines. However, there are some important things to remember when shopping online to ensure that you keep your money and personal information stays safe.

Not all websites are what they appear. Some have been set up for extortion. Although it is easy to be tricked on the internet, there are easy steps to ensure that the site you are using is safe.

According to, you should conduct independent research before you buy from an online distributor you have never done business with. Some attackers try to trick you by creating malicious websites that appear legitimate, so you should verify the site before supplying any information. Also make sure to locate and note phone numbers and physical addresses of vendors in case there is a problem with your transaction or your bill. It is always a good idea to search for merchant reviews to find out what other people think of the site.

Be sure to use the business’ official web page. Checking a few simple details can make a difference in what happens with your money. Also make sure you are in a safe place when you shop online and not connected to an unsecure network.

According to, Before you enter your personal and financial information to make an online transaction, look for signs that the site is secure. This includes a closed padlock on your web browser’s address bar or a URL address that begins with shttp or https. This indicates that the purchase is encrypted or secured. Never use unsecured wireless networks to make an online purchase.
Keep an eye on the item value before, during and after checkout to make sure you are paying the right amount for your items. Sometimes you are shown one price but are actually paying more than what was originally shown. says that you should consider carefully whether you may be paying too much for an item, particularly if you're bidding through an auction site. You may want to comparison shop, online or offline, before you buy. Make sure there are no extra shipping or handling costs.
The privacy policy is important. This document prevents identity theft by telling you how your purchasing information will be used and stored. says that reading the privacy policy carefully to find out what information the seller is gathering from you, how the information will be used, and how you can stop the process. If a site does not have a privacy policy posted, you may not want to do business with it. If it does have a privacy policy, there will probably be a link to it from the seller's home page, or it could be included with the Legal Terms.

These are some of the best ways to be safe while shopping online. There are plenty of good places to go on the internet to help with holiday shopping, however being safe while doing it can keep your holidays on the right track.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms