INFORMATION FOR GRAPHICS:
Shop on trustworthy websites
Beware of "too good to be true" deals
Beware of phishing
Pay with a credit card
Review the return policy
Keep documentation of your order
Shop on trustworthy websites. Check a seller's reputation and record for customer satisfaction at bbb.org. And look for the "s" in the address box to ensure you're shopping on a secure website.
Beware of "too good to be true" deals. Beware of offers on websites and in unsolicited e-mails offering extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Don't be afraid to pass up a "deal."
Beware of phishing. If you receive an e-mail claiming problems with an order that asks for personal information or financial information, call the contact number on the website to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.
Pay with a credit card. Under federal law, charges made on a credit card can be disputed if the item is never received. Many card issuers also have "zero liability" policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.
Review the return policy. A return policy should be clearly listed on the company's website. Be sure to read all conditions associated with the return policy, specifically how long you have to return an item.
Verify shipping. Pay close attention to the estimated delivery time to ensure you will get your item before Christmas. Federal law requires that orders made online be shipped by the date promised, however, if no delivery time is stated, stores have up to 30 days to get the item to you.
Keep documentation of your order. After completing the online order process, there should be a final confirmation page or an email confirmation. Print and save any confirmations for future reference.
In a study released by shop.org, online holiday sales for 2012 are expected to increase 12 percent compared to last year.