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  • Is your Dad or Great Aunt Phyllis intimidated by shopping online? This beginner's guide will help them get up and running — and save you and them a trip to the mall. When prosperity comes, do not use all of it. — Confucius
  • Online shopping is simple and involves the following stages: You find a site that sells what you want (possibly using a search engine, but more frequently going to a site which you know (from personal experience, word of mouth or advertising) sells the desired goods. Having found on the site, you then locate – by searching or browsing – the goods in its online catalogue. You then fill in an online form, giving your address and credit card details. You submit your order. The company operating the site then dispatches the goods
  • Forget crowded malls, endless parking lots, and long lines. From groceries to gifts, you can buy just about anything online. Online shopping can save you time and money. You can use special websites called comparison shopping sites to find the best price for any given item. Although Internet shopping won't completely replace window shopping at the mall, when you know exactly what you want, online shopping can't be beat. It is also perfect for when you need to send something across the miles. Need a shower present for your niece in Chicago? Order online. Have the company gift wrap the present and insert a gift card with your own personalized message. No trip to the mall. No trek to the post office. What could be easier?
  • You should always use firewalls, anti-virus software, spy-ware detectors and have hard to guess passwords. Never give out credit card details via emails. Always keep a record of your credit card transactions and check your online credit card statements regularly to confirm them.
  • Keep your personal information private. Don't disclose your personal information - your address, telephone number, bank account number or e-mail address - unless you know who's collecting the information, why they're collecting it and how they'll use it. Do your part to protect your identity, your credit, and your purchase. Keep Your Password Private Most reputable e-commerce web sites require the shopper to log-in before placing or viewing an order. The shopper is usually required to provide a username and a password. Never reveal your password to anyone. When selecting a password, do not use commonly known information, such as your birthdate, mother's maiden name, or numbers from your driver's license or Social Security number. Do not reuse the same password for other sites. The best password has at least eight characters and includes numbers and letters.
  • Nervous about shopping online? You are not alone. Many people enter the world of online purchases with trepidation. Yet, as each year passes, more and more people overcome their anxieties and jump online to make purchases. Nothing is completely safe, but online shopping has proven itself with millions of transactions being safely processed each day. Trivia The largest shopping mall in the United States, the Mall of America in Minnesota, has more than 2.5 million square feet of retail space, but the Internet carries more products. There are a few simple things you need to do to make sure that your online shopping is safe and secure. The first is in choosing trustworthy companies. Because credit card fraud takes a bite out of their bottom lines, most reputable companies have devoted a great deal of effort to ensure your shopping experience is enjoyable, your personal information is safeguarded, and your transactions are secure.
  • Many of your favorite brick-and-mortar stores, to whom you have been loyal over the years, now offer you the convenience of shopping online from their "click and mortar" stores. These tried and true stores are usually safe places to start. Lingo Brick-and-mortar refers to stores that sell their wares from a physical building. Online versions of those stores are sometimes called click-and-mortar . You can also ask relatives and friends. Several good recommendations about an online store should increase the possibility that you will want to shop there. Yet, sometimes you are faced with deciding if you want to make a purchase from a store with which you are completely unfamiliar. For instance, say you have been browsing for a while and you find a great buy on a cashmere sweater. You find your size and you like the color, but you’ve never heard of the company. Is it safe to buy this sweater online? What can you do to help ensure that your money and your privacy are protected? First of all, before you place your order, look for information about the company on its website, such as its mailing address (not just a post office box) and its telephone number. Unfortunately, anyone can set up an Internet website. If you are unfamiliar with a particular company, one good way to check them out is to find out if they have a toll-free telephone number you can call to get more information about them. Again, ask your friends and neighbors if they are familiar with the company and ask for their feedback. Sandy's Tip If you are completely unfamiliar with an online store, it is always smart to place a small order or two with them before you make a large purchase. Secondly, read the site’s privacy policy. Every reputable website that collects customer or user information should have a privacy policy explaining how they protect the information submitted to their website. Some online websites sell the information you give them to other companies. When making your purchase, be sure not to give them permission to share your information to other companies. Sometimes it’s in the fine print, so be careful when you are placing your order. Exercise your right to opt out if you do not want the seller to pass along information about you. If you do not agree with their privacy policy, do not deal with that company. There are several companies that put their seal of approval on privacy statements. This is kind of like having a Good Housekeeping seal of approval on a product. It certifies that the website adheres to strict privacy standards. TRUSTe, a nonprofit organization that promotes privacy on the Internet, is one of the most recognizable of these companies. If a website has a TRUSTe certification, it doesn’t necessarily mean they carry good products or give good service, but it is an indication that they care about the customer and are more likely to be a substantial company. Here the key issue is trust: do you believe that the retailer is reputable (and will not pass on your data to others), competent (with well-maintained and secure computer systems) and honest? If the vendor looks unprofessional, don't make a purchase from their online store. Remember to check these details: Does the vendor have registered business details and is the ABN clearly visible? Are the contact details clearly visible? Is there a street address available, not just a GPO Box? Check the Web Site Address Above the web site at the top of your screen is a rectangular window that contains the web site address (also called the URL, or Uniform Resource Locator). By checking that address, you can make sure that you are dealing with the correct company. Don’t click on any link embedded within a potentially suspicious email. Instead, start a new Internet session by typing in the link’s URL into the address bar and pressing “Enter” to be sure you are directed to a legitimate Web site.
  • When shopping online, do not place any orders until you thoroughly understand the company’s return policy. What if you do not like what you purchased? Can it be returned? Is there a restocking fee? Will the company pay for the return postage if the product arrives damaged? If the website also has a brick-and-mortar store, can you return the product there? Will you get a refund or will you have to settle for a store credit? Even if you are dealing with a well-known business where you are a regular customer, be aware that some companies have different rules for their online shoppers than they do for purchasing items from their brick-and-mortar stores or mail order catalogs. You do not want any surprises, so do your homework. Most companies make this information easily understandable and accessible on their websites. Check the site's privacy policy, before you provide any personal financial information to a website. In particular, determine how the information will be used or shared with others. Also check the site's statements about the security provided for your information. Some websites' disclosures are easier to find than others - look at the bottom of the home page, on order forms or in the "About" or "FAQs" section of a site. If you're not comfortable with the policy, consider doing business elsewhere. Read and understand the refund and shipping policies of a website you visit, before you make your purchase. Look closely at disclosures about the website's refund and shipping policies. Again, search through the website for these disclosures. Pay Attention to Shipping Facts Under the law, a company must ship your order within the time stated in its ad. If no time frame is stated, the merchant must ship the product in 30 days or give you an "Option Notice." This gives you an opportunity to cancel the order and receive a prompt refund, or agree to the delay. Here are key shipping questions to ask: Does the site tell you if there are geographic or other restrictions for delivery? Are there choices for shipping? Who pays the shipping cost? What does the site say about shipping insurance? What are the shipping and handling fees, and are they reasonable?
  • The Internet is intrinsically an insecure medium, so naturally people are concerned about whether to entrust their credit card details to an online store. And on the vendor's side, there is always concern about identity theft – i.e. the problem of knowing whether the person placing the order is using a faked or stolen card. The transaction falls into the ‘customer not present’ category, which is recognized in the industry as carrying a higher risk of fraud. There are two very simple ways to identify a web page as secure. Instead of the URL in the address bar beginning with http://, it begins with https://, the extra s stands for secure. See Figure 3.1 for an example. At the Target website you see the https:// in the address bar, indicating that you are on a secure web page. If it doesn't begin with ‘https://’ then you should not proceed any further because it means that your personal data will not be encrypted (i.e. scrambled) while being transmitted across the Net. an unbroken padlock or key symbol at the bottom right hand corner of your browser window frame. In Internet Explorer, look for a gold locked padlock at the bottom-right on the status bar. One is not present without the other. Both of these features represent secure sites that are using Secure Socket Layering (SSL), which is a particularly reliable encryption process that scrambles credit card information after it is entered and before it is transferred. The danger is not so much that your personal data will be snooped on in transit, but whether they will be secure if held by the online retailer. All reputable retailers conduct the sensitive part of the transaction using a technology called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Look for online merchants who are members of a seal-of-approval program that sets voluntary guidelines for privacy-related practices, such as TRUSTe (, Verisign (, or BBBonline ( Do not look for the entire site to be secure. The page on which you put your dress or shoe size, or where you indicated you want to purchase three copies of a certain book, does not need to be a secure page. However, do not do business with any company that does not offer you a secure page for your credit card, shipping, and billing information.
  • The main method of payment when shopping online is credit cards. If you do intend to use your credit cards to pay for items, then it is important to know how to protect your credit card details. As there are daily reports of credit card fraud, knowing how to protect yourself online is vital. If you take precautionary measures to protect your details and utilise the security services offered by your credit card issuer and bank, you can avoid being a victim of credit card fraud. When you pay online using your credit card, the Fair Credit Billing Act will protect your transaction. Under this legislation, consumers have the right to dispute certain charges for goods or services they never received or ordered, and they may temporarily withhold their payment. Generally, customers are held liable for only the first $50 worth of unauthorized credit card charges. The type of credit card used, however, can make a difference. Some credit card companies provide supplemental warranties or other purchase-protection benefits. If you have a problem with your purchase, you might be able to withhold payment while your credit card company investigates the problem. Sandy's Tip Be careful with debit cards. Many do not have the Fair Credit Act protection, so you might be liable for more than $50 of unauthorized debit card charges. Check with your bank for details. Credit card protection online Verified by Visa Verified by Visa adds a password to your Visa credit card for you to enter while shopping online. After activating your password through your bank, your credit card is automatically recognised as being protected with Verified by Visa at all participating online stores. A message will come up to confirm that you are buying from a legitimate merchant and after you enter your password, your transaction continues as normal. MasterCard SecureCode MasterCard SecureCode protects your online credit card information by requesting a code. When you are shopping with a participating online merchant, a pop up box will appear requesting your SecureCode. After entering the code, your bank confirms you are the authorised cardholder and you continue with your purchase as normal. Online credit card protection from banks Banks will normally protect your credit cards against unauthorised charges providing that you have not caused or contributed to the loss.
  • Always Print Copies of Your Orders After placing an order online, you should receive a confirmation page that reviews your entire order. It should include the costs of the order, your customer information, product information, and the confirmation number. We recommend you print out at least one copy of the Web page(s) describing the item you ordered as well as the page showing company name, postal address, phone number, and legal terms, including return policy. Keep it for your own records for at least the period covered by the return/warranty policy. Often you will also receive a confirmation message that is e-mailed to you by the merchant. Be sure to save and/or print this message as well as any other e-mail correspondence with the company. Shop with Companies Located in the United States
  • It’s not always easy to tell who's at the other end of your online transaction when you hand over your credit card number. Fortunately, you can use a third-party payment service to make paying for things online a little easier and safer. What is a third-party payment service? When you use a third-party payment service, you transfer money into an online account and make payments from that account. That way, you never expose your real credit card or bank account information. The most popular of these services IN THE U.S. is called PayPal (owned by eBay), but there are others such as Payments. You can use these third-party payment services to: • Make purchases on online auction sites. • Purchase products from small Web sites. • Donate money to different causes. • Send money to anyone with an e-mail account (certain services only) Choosing a payment service If you've already won an auction, you might be limited to the payment choices the seller or the auction site selects. For example, many eBay sellers only accept PayPal and many Auctions sellers only accept Payments. If you have a choice, follow these tips to choose a more secure service: • Read the privacy policy and make sure you agree with it. If you don't, go elsewhere. • Check for a stamp of approval from the BBBOnline (the Better Business Bureau Online) or Truste. • Find out what others say about the service: check comparison sites such as Epinions or Bizrate. Top of page Using payment services more safely Some ways to use third-party services more safely include: Never respond to e-mail messages from third-party payment services asking you to confirm account details, such as passwords or other personally identifiable information. These e-mail messages could be an identity theft scam, such as phishing. Type the address of the payment service directly into your browser or use your personal bookmarks. If you need to update your account information or change your password, visit the Web site by using your personal bookmark or by typing the URL directly into your browser. Check if the seller has been a verified member of the payment service for a few months or more. Some sites also allow you to check the seller's rating—although these ratings cannot be guaranteed, they can be helpful. Never use your account to transfer money for someone else that you don't know. This might be an advanced fee fraud. To learn more, see Don't be fooled by that easy money e-mail hoax. Be more careful when you purchase very expensive items, such as jewelry or computers, especially around the holidays and for items that are sold out in stores.
  • Keep Good Records When you have completed an online transaction, the last screen usually shows your order and confirmation number. Always print this page, just in case you have a problem with your purchase. You want to keep a written record of all shipping and handling costs, as well as the amount of the item(s). Most companies will send you an email confirmation of your transaction. Be sure to read it as soon as you get it, particularly the fine print. By law, online businesses must deliver merchandise within 30 days of purchase or notify you if there will be a delay. It is not unusual for the company to send you additional email regarding your order. You might also get email correspondence telling you that your order has been filled and is ready to ship. You might even get a tracking number to use on the shipper’s website to track the progress of the shipment. It is a good idea to promptly check your monthly bank and credit card statements as soon as you are notified your order has been shipped. Reconcile these statements with the records of your transactions to make sure that any billing errors or unauthorized purchases are reported within the required timeframe. More worrying for most consumers is when they are mid-way through a transaction and their connection ‘freezes’. They have clicked ‘submit order’ or ‘confirm’, the retail site replies that it is just checking their credit-card details and then the system stalls. Has the order gone through? If you repeat the process, will you wind up with two orders? How can you find out? I know someone who wanted to buy a fridge online, got caught by system crashes and wound up ordering six fridges! Fortunately, staff at the dispatch end guessed what had happened, telephoned the customer and the matter was clarified. Disclose Only the Bare Facts When You Order When placing an order, there is certain information that you must provide to the web merchant such as your name and address. Often, a merchant will try to obtain more information about you. They may ask questions about your leisure lifestyle or annual income. This information is used to target you for marketing purposes. It can lead to "spam" or even direct mail and telephone solicitations. Don't answer any question you feel is not required to process your order. Often, the web site will mark which questions need to be answered with an asterisk (*). Should a company require information you are not comfortable sharing, leave >the site and find a different company for the product you seek.
  • Secure Server Site - Make sure the online shopping site is using 128-bit encryption technology. How do do you know? There are 2 ways. When browsing to pages that require entering personal or login information, check the website address if it begins with "https" not "http". Also, there should be a closed lock icon at the bottom right-hand corner of your browser (IE). Why is this important? When your information is transferred to the merchant's server, it goes through many different routers. If your data is not encrypted, network sniffer can easily read and collect your data. What is a network sniffer? Sniffer is a tool, which utilizes network interfaces of computer to capture data packets which destination is other computers. Network sniffers can be used both for legitimate network management functions and for stealing information off a network.Ok. This is getting too technical. If you are interested in knowing more about network sniffer, google "network sniffer" and you will find a lot of information Phone Number - Although email is the most common means of communication nowadays, I still prefer deal with companies that do provide a contact phone number just in case. For me, that is basic customer service. If shopping site does not provide that, be extra cautious! Refund Policy - Make sure the merchant has one and read it through and make sure you understand the terms and am comfortable with it. There is no 1 rule for refund policy. Say, for books & CDs, it is understandable that there is no refund after a few days. This is a judgment call from your part to decide whether the refund policy is reasonable or not. Privacy Policy - Make sure the shopping site has one and that they DO NOT sell or rent your information to third parties. Make sure your data is private to the merchant. Highly recommend companies that do not store your credit card information. A few things that I check after placing the order. Reference Numbers - Write down the payment reference number and order number. These will be the essential information you need if anything goes wrong. Usually, you should receive an order confirmation email with this information. Just in case, if you do not, you still have this information on hand. Credit Card Statement - If you do your banking online (yeah, I do), the order will usually show up after a few days (after the merchant shipped out your order). Check it and make sure the charge is correct. Product - Check the product right after you received it. If there is any problems, report to the online shopping site asap as there is usually a time restriction for refund. Don't wait!
  • The real beauty of the Internet shines through when it helps you find the best price on any given item. You don’t have to run from store to store. You don’t even have to jump from website to website. You simply surf over to a comparison shopping website and let the website do the work of finding and comparing the prices on the item for which you are shopping. Comparison shopping sites are websites that will find and compare the prices of items from several competing online stores.
  • Online retailers are always trying new ways to make their products appealing in an atmosphere where the customer doesn’t have the option of feeling the merchandise or trying on the clothing Other websites are using many different merchandising methods to attract purchasers. Shop for shoes at ( and you will be able to zoom in and out to see all the details of the shoe. Many stores are offering the ability to click a button to see a larger view of the item. At some websites, such as J.Jill (, you can see the item either on or off a model, and you can click on a color swatch to change the color of the item on the screen. At the Volkswagen website ( you can explore each car by a simple move of the mouse. You can change the color of the car and turn it around to see it from every angle. personalized product suggestions you are presented with other available items that are related to the product you are viewing. suggest other items you might like to buy, based on your previous purchases. Suggest other items based on other people who have purchased that item
  • Trivia eBay was started in 1995 and its users are now selling more than 1 billion dollars worth of merchandise each month. Here’s how it works. Assuming that everything has an inherent value, you can buy and sell just about any item, new or old, on eBay. There is no charge to visit eBay, look at the merchandise, or make a purchase. If you want to sell an item, there is a charge for listing that item on the website. You post a picture of the item and set a starting price. After it is listed, people bid on the item. You can also establish the price at which you will sell the item or you can just wait and see how high the bids go. After the bid has been accepted, the purchaser sends the money to the seller and the seller sends the item to the purchaser. The seller also pays eBay a fee for the sale. Not only is this a great way to get rid of the old stuff you are not using, it is an excellent way to find unusual items and to find some bargains. Thousands of people use eBay to buy and sell items to augment their income, and for some, it has become a full-time job. Others, like me, just visit to have some fun and to sell or bid on an occasional item. Know How Online Auctions Operate Online auctions connect buyers and sellers, allowing them to communicate in a bidding process over items for sale. Many people are drawn to online auction sites because they allow you to buy items at discounted prices. And they offer a chance to sell some of your unneeded or unwanted possessions to raise extra money. For the most part, online auction sites are a safe way to exchange goods. But it makes sense to be cautious and aware. The first step in safely using an online auction site is to read the terms of use, which will outline key issues such as whether or not the seller or the site is responsible for any problems that arise. Learn a site's return policy, as it may be difficult to return merchandise bought at auction. It's critical to check the policy, because you may be required to follow the seller's refund policy, rather than that of the auction site. Once a consumer has agreed to a price with a seller, the buyer and seller arrange for payment and delivery of the product. Successful bidders can usually choose among several payment options, such as credit card, online payment service, debit card, personal check, cashier's check, money order, or escrow service. If a seller requests payment in cash by private courier, or by check or money order through an overnight delivery service, you have a right to be suspicious. This could signal an attempt to commit fraud by taking your money without delivering the merchandise. It always makes sense to pay by credit card because you'll have an option to seek a credit from the credit card issuer (also known as a "charge back") if the product isn't delivered or isn't what you ordered. For more information on credit card consumer protections see To protect both buyers and sellers, some auction sites prohibit the use of wire transfers as a payment method. The Federal Trade Commission recommends that buyers do not pay by wire transfer because if something goes wrong, you are left with no refund and no recourse. Another popular way to pay at auctions is with online payment services, such as PayPal. In this scenario, the buyer and seller set up accounts that allow them to make or accept payments. Buyers provide payment information, like bank account or credit card numbers, and sellers give information about where payments should be deposited. Some online payment services offer protection if the seller doesn't ship the goods. Sellers can be scammed too. Fake check scams are the most common problem, although they can be avoided by not accepting checks, especially cashier's or certified checks, as payment, and by waiting to ship the goods until you get your payment in a reliable form. If a buyer offers you a cashier's (or certified) check for more than the amount of the item, and asks you to wire them the excess amount, don't do it. This it is a classic example of a fake check scam. If you encounter a problem with a buyer or seller at an online auction site, such as eBay, it's important to report the problem to the site right away. You are probably not the only person being taken advantage of and you could help shut down illegal or unethical sellers by alerting the site to the problem. For more information on online auctions, see
  • Sandy’s Summary The Internet has put a whole new spin on shopping. Whether you are a shopaholic or you just purchase exactly what you need, online resources can save you time and money. You no longer have to "shop till you drop." Now you can shop in your robe and slippers using the Internet to make all your purchases. Shopping online is safe and secure as long as you deal with a reputable company and learn how to recognize a secure web page when you enter your personal information. You will also want to investigate privacy and return policies. After you do that, online shopping is just plain fun. You don’t have to run from store to store to get prices. You can use comparison websites to find the best price on just about any item. You can flip through online catalogues with your mouse, try clothing on virtual models, and take advantage of Web-only special prices. The Internet also specializes in personalized items. Put your pet’s picture on a mug, buy perfume created just for you, or create gift baskets right from the comfort of your home. You’ll feel like royalty. With the Internet, you can even buy and sell used items. So clean out the garage or basement and make a few extra bucks without the hassle of a garage sale. Then you can go online and find that treasure you have been longing for. Shop online. It’s fun and easy!


  • 1. A Beginner's Guide to Shopping Online
  • 2. What is online shopping
    • Find a site that sells what you want
    • Locate the goods in it’s online catalogue
    • Fill in an online purchasing form
    • Submit your order
    • Company dispatches the goods
  • 3. Making it safe and easy
    • Safe and secure shopping
    • Using shopping carts
    • Online catalogs and auctions
  • 4. Is your computer secure
    • Do you have security software?
    • Does it scan for spyware?
    • When was the last scan?
  • 5. Are you secure
    • Logons and passwords
  • 6. Safe and secure shopping
    • Find a reputable company
    • Is the purchase secure
    • Pay by credit card
    • Check the return policy
  • 7. Find a Reputable Company
    • Go from Brick-and-mortar to click-and-mortar
      • Myer
    • Does the website post clear company information
      • Real phone number and toll-free
      • Street address
      • ABN number
      • About us
      • Testimonials/referrals
      • Policies (returns, privacy, security)
      • How long have they been in business
      • Does url match company name
    • It all comes back to trust based on the professionalism on the site
  • 8. Is there a returns policy
    • Returns
    • Shipping
  • 9. Is the purchase secure
    • When entering confidential and financial details make sure you input that data on a dsecure webpage
    • Https://
    • Closed padlock or key
    • Seal of approval
  • 10. Use a credit card
    • When using a credit card
  • 11. Keep records
    • Don’t complete the transaction until you have checked your order
    • Always print a copy of the screen before you submit your order
    • Also print out a page showing company details
    • Print out confirming email
  • 12. Online payment services
    • An online account that pays for the transaction on your behalf
    • You transfer money to the service, they pay for the transaction
    • Use for auctions, small web sites, unsecure purchases, charity donations and transfer money
    • PayPal
  • 13. Going shopping
    • Shopping carts
    • The checkout
    • Confirming your order
    • Keep copies of your records
  • 14. Shopping Check Sheet
    • Try
    • Ebay
    • Amazon
  • 15. Comparative shopping
  • 16. Enhanced Product Presentations
  • 17. Auctions and Used Stuff
  • 18. Travel planning
  • 19. Last minute gifts
    • Flowers
    • Books
    • Charity
  • 20. In conclusion
  • 21. Others
    • Coupons