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Shopping Online Safely: Mr. Modem's Top Ten Tips

Online shopping is booming because it is convenient, cost-effective and safe -- if you follow Mr. Modem's basic computer tips and recommendations:

1. Shop with Retailers You Know
If you want to try shopping online but are a bit leery, start by purchasing an inexpensive item from a retailer you know and trust in the off-line world, just to get a feel for the process.

2. Comparison Shop
Prices vary widely on the Internet, so be a savvy shopper and use a free, online comparison shopper such as My Simon or to refine your choices.

3. Use a Secure Web Site
On the payment page of a Web site, look for the prefix "https://" at the beginning of the Web page address, or a little closed-padlock icon in the lower right corner of your browser window. The "s" indicates a secure site. Click the padlock icon for additional security information.

4. Pay by Credit Card
Nothing is more misunderstood in the world of e-commerce than using a credit card. Purchasing by credit card is the safest method of shopping online.

5. Understand the Transaction
Be sure you know and understand what you’re purchasing, the total price, the delivery date, shipping charges, if any, the return and cancellation policies, and the terms of any warranty. This is one of the most important basic computer tips to keep in mind for safe online shopping.

6. Protect Your Personal Information
Only shop with e-tailers that have posted privacy policies that explain what personal information is collected and how it will be used.

7. Look for Off-Line Contact Information
Shop with merchants that display their street address and telephone number on the Web site. Call the telephone number to be sure it's a working number of a legitimate business.

8. Keep a Record
Print out and save a record of your online transactions, including any order confirmations received by email. Though frequently overlooked, this is yet another of the most important basic computer tips when it comes to safe online shopping.

9. Know Your Consumer Rights
The same laws that protect you when you shop by phone or mail apply when you shop in cyberspace. Under the law, a company must ship your order within the time frame stated in its advertisements and no more than 30 days after the order date.

10. Think!
You have accumulated a lifetime of common sense so don't put it on hold when shopping online. Listen to the voice of your inner modem. If that little voice is telling you to be wary of a retailer, don't place an order. Chances are your common sense isn't going to steer you wrong.

Additional basic computer tips and resources relating to safe online shopping: – Created by the American Bar Association, an excellent primer for all e-shoppers.

Better Business Bureau Online

FTC Consumer Protection Information

Each week, nationally syndicated columnist and author Mr. Modem shares hundreds of basic computer tips and more with subscribers worldwide in “Mr. Modem’s Weekly Newsletter.” For additional information or to subscribe, visit

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