The online holiday shopping season had a record-breaking start after Cyber Monday sales posted the largest single day of online sales ever in the United States. Although you can’t beat the convenience of getting all your gifts from the comfort on your home, shopping on your computer comes with its own set of challenges.

Better Business Bureau handles more than 10,000 complaints each year about internet shopping. BBB serving the Heart of Texas offers these tips for safe online shopping for the holidays and all year long:

  • Check a site’s security settings. If the site is secure, its URL (web address) should start with “https://” and include a lock icon on the purchase or shopping cart page.
  • Think before you click. Be especially cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media sites. Many sketchy retailers advertise great deals on trendy clothing that don’t measure up to the promotional hype.
  • Beware of phishing. Phishing emails can look like a message from a well-known brand, but clicking on unfamiliar links can place you at risk for malware and/or identity theft. One popular scam claims to be from a package-delivery company with links to “tracking information” on an order you don’t remember making. Don’t click!
  • Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections; it’s easier to dispute charges that you didn’t approve. Debit cards, prepaid cards or gift cards don’t have the same protections as a credit card.
  • Keep documentation of your order. Save a copy of the confirmation page or email confirmation until you receive the item and are satisfied. Be sure to know and understand the return policy and keep this documented with your purchase records.

Also, with this time of year being peak season for package delivery companies, there are plenty more opportunities for a real-life Grinch to steal your Christmas gifts right from your doorstep. A report by the home security company August Home Inc. reported 11 million packages have been stolen in the past year. BBB recommends the following to make sure your online order makes it under the Christmas tree:

  • Track your packages: Follow shipments from the seller to your front door with online, text message or phone call tracking offered through the delivery company. Sign up for alerts to be notified of delays or exceptions and when the package has been delivered.
  • Request a signature: This package delivery feature will likely come with a fee, but without a recipient’s signature, the delivery service won’t be able to leave a package exposed on a doorstep.
  • Check with your employer: Some employers will allow package delivery to your place of work for safekeeping.
  • Ask your neighbors: If you know people that work out of their home or stay at home that live near you, ask them to look out for your deliveries.

Adam Price is regional director for Better Business Bureau serving the Greater Waco area. Email him at aprice@waco.bbb.org.

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