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Internet shopping tips

With a computer and an Internet connection, the whole world is your mall! In fact, American consumers will spend some two billion dollars shopping on the web this holiday season. Be sure to use common sense when choosing where to spend your hard-earned money.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid undue risks:

  • Pay by credit card if possible. It provides more legal protection than a debit card if a dispute arises.
  • Read the website's privacy policy to find out what information the vendor is gathering from you and whether that information is sold to other companies. Avoid doing business with companies that do not have a privacy policy.
  • Read the warranty and return policies carefully before buying.
  • Keep good records. Print out the web page for the item being purchased, the warranty and any other important information. Record your order number and date.
  • Answer only minimum questions when filling out forms. Many sites put an asterisk next to the questions that must be answered. You will be asked many questions, such as your annual income, age, phone number and similar information. Don't answer questions of a personal nature and answer only those that are required. If you have doubts, trust your instincts and shop elsewhere.
  • Never give out your Social Security number or account numbers or passwords. There is no legitimate reason that a shopping site needs to know this information.
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