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eShopping Tips

1. Use a credit card with a safe online shopping guarantee. Look for a card with specific guarantees, like 100% coverage for any losses due to fraud when shopping on the Internet. Many credit cards only cover a percentage or the first $50 toward fraud.

2. Shop only at websites that offer encryption protection. A protected website will have one or more of these three features: the small lock/key symbol at the bottom of your browser window; an address that starts with https ("s" for "secure") instead of just http; and a warning box that pops up at the point of purchase.

3. Look for and read a website's privacy and security policy. Stay clear of a website that either doesn't have one or does not guarantee your personal information will not be sold.

4. Research your merchant. Many websites, such as BizRate.com, let consumers evaluate hundreds of different merchants on criteria such as customer service, privacy policies, and content. Look at the ratings consumers give them and stay clear of websites that either aren't listed or receive poor marks.

5. Print out a copy of your order and confirmation number for your records. Reputable merchants will usually send you an email confirming your order. However a hard copy is always good to have in case your order is lost, deleted or not delivered as promised.

6. Never share your website passwords with anyone. Write them down and store them in a safe place.

7. Don't use the same username and password at every website. Should your personal information be compromised, a thief won’t get very far if you use different passwords and usernames on different websites.

8. Use only one credit card to shop with online. This helps keep track of your online purchases during the holidays, and will make it easier to spot purchases that are fraudulent. Look for a card that allows you to review transactions online as well – you'll be more likely to notice a problem early on.

9. Don't enter more information at a merchant website than is absolutely necessary. There is usually no reason why you should have to supply information such as birth dates or Social Security numbers when making a purchase. Fill in only the bare essentials necessary to make your purchase.

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