Internet safety tips given for shopping

Published 4:39pm Wednesday, December 12, 2012

BY CAROLYN BIVINS

Extension Agent

I came across this article written by Rick Zapata, Regional Extension Agent ,recently and it’s very timely.   He states that -Years ago, when Americans went shopping they did so by using the Sears (and Roebuck) catalog and other catalogs like it.  Shortly after that, retailers started opening regional stores as well as offering the customer the ability to purchase through their catalog. Then stores became shopping malls and some stores banded together to form outlet malls with specialty products. As Americans, we are now going back to the catalog sales except this time the catalog is on the internet. History does repeat itself.
More and more people are using the internet to buy things for themselves and for Christmas presents. There are many advantages for shopping online and one is the convenience of buying what you want without leaving the house.  With gasoline costing as much as it is, it may reduce your overall shopping costs during the holidays. Another advantage of shopping online during the holidays is some of the sites offer free shipping. Sometimes the free shipping is tied to a dollar amount but you can shop for the same item at different sites and choose the one who offers the lowest cost overall. It is usually cheaper to bundle several purchases into the same shipping if the internet store will let you do that.
Most all of the major retail stores have sales available on the internet. The internet sites contain many more products than the retail store’s physical location.
For instance, Wal Marts have thousands of products in their super centers, but on their internet site they carry many more products than are available in their store. In addition to the quantity of products on their web site, they generally offer free shipping to a local store. Lowes, Home Depot, and other retailers also carry more products online and offer similar services. Some of the bigger sites are Amazon, Overstock, Sportsman’s Guide (Men love this site) and E-Bay which has both items for sale and the opportunity to bid on items. We can’t list all the shopping sites because there are thousands. If you do not know the sites there is another way to shop.
One of the easiest ways to shop is to put in what you are looking for. For instance if you are looking for “cheap tires,” put that into Google or Yahoo and you will get a list of tire dealers.
Usually the most used sites will be listed at the top of the list but the list may be comprised of thousands of dealers selling tires.
I did this last year and saved over a hundred dollars buying four tires for my car. I have also purchased car parts for my car using this technique. I have ordered lots of things on the internet and I have not had any problems so far with using my credit card.
Current internet shopping requires you to use a credit card as a general rule. There is a safe payment source that you can use to pay for purchases called Pay Pal.
To use this service you will need to go to the Pay Pal web site and set up an account. You can use a credit card, debit card or your actual checking account.
This allows us to make safe purchases on the internet without having to give someone your credit card number.
I have used my credit card number on individual sites before but it is not without risk.
Look on the site and see if they are approved for safe use. Just like Underwriters Labs inspects and certifies products, there are agencies who certify safety of internet sites.
You should always be sure that the site is certified safe for your purchases. Be safe and happy shopping.
Source: Rick Zapata is REA for Consumer Science and Financial Management The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities) in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension Services offers a variety of pamphlets filled information concerning a wide range of topics.

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