If you're like most Americans, you will be doing a lot of your holiday shopping this [black]Friday. Most people will wake up super early to hit the stores. Last year, I hit Target, Macy's, Bloomingdales and Bed Bath & Beyond for all their megasales. Too bad!! I was too late. This year, I"m shopping...........you guessed it - ONLINE!! I'm sure I'm not alone. For myself and all those other super smart shoppers out there, here are few sassy online shopping tips from CNNMoney.com. Happy Clicking!!
Top Tips: Online shopping safety - By Gerri Willis, CNN
The online shopping season is expected to bring in almost $39 billion in sales this year. And online shopping is a great way to keep your spending in line. But when you let your fingers do the walking, you'll want to take some precautions.
1. Look for a lock
You are particularly vulnerable to identity thieves when you're sending out your credit card information. To make sure your Web site is safe, look for a picture of a closed lock in the browser window. If you see a broken lock or key that means security isn't operating at that time according to the American Bar Association.
When the Web page asks for your credit card information, the web address should begin with "https" instead of "http." Other sites will have a pop up box that indicates you are entering a secure area.
2. Know your privacy
Ever wonder why you get spam from marketers you never did business with? It's because sellers on the web are allowed to collect your name, address, information on what Web site pages you visit, which products you buy, and where you ship them.
3. Use the card
You'll be better off using a credit card rather than a debit card if you're making purchases online. A lot of cards have a "zero liability limit" meaning that you won't be held responsible if there's a fraudulent charge to your card. Federal law also limits the amount you would owe to $50.
Some cards even let you create an online ID for one-time purchases. Bank of America's ShopSafe card lets you create a temporary number when you make an online purchase. This number links to your real credit card - and keeps your real card safe. Discover card also lets you shop online with secure online account numbers. Call your credit card issuer and find out if it offers a protection like that.
4. Be wary of e-mails
You may receive an e-mail that looks like its from the company. It may ask you for your personal information in order to "verify" accounts or "clear up" errors that have occurred.
Remember, legitimate businesses do not ask for social security numbers or bank account numbers. You shouldn't respond to these e-mails and don't click on the links they contain.
If you want to check with the company, type the address of the Web site into your own computer or call the company about any questions. You should also consider changing your password every 3 to 4 months to make sure it hasn't fallen into the wrong hands.
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Waking up early, pounding a cup of coffee and sprinting to the nearest mall has become a post-Thanksgiving tradition for many Americans bargain hunters. Not only does so-called Black Friday usher in the holiday shopping season, it also brings with it some of the best sales of the year.
But to get the most for your money, you would do well to heed the advice of The Motley Fool's "Pro-shopper" Dayana Yochim before hitting the stores:
Shop the night before. If you're looking for the cheapest prices on the "hottest" items, you may want to start your shopping online the night before. Why? A number of retail outlets post their Black Friday sales prices online on Thursday night, Yochim says. Snagging "must-have" items online in advance of the sales rush means you'll get the best price without having to worry about the store running out of the product you're after.
Search for coupon codes. If you're shopping online, be sure to take advantage of coupon codes. "If you're not, you're leaving money on the table," says Yochim. New to the world of coupon codes? Don't worry, it's easy. Just plug the name of the product you're looking for into your search engine along with the words "coupon code." If there is a coupon available, a link should appear, providing you with a discount code to plug in when you order online. You can also find deals on Web sites, such as Currentcodes.com, Couponcabin.com and Dealcoupon.com.
Research store return policies. A number of retailers are changing their return policies just for the holiday season, says Yochim, which means if you're not careful you could get stuck with some hefty fees for returns and exchanges. Stores' return policies are generally posted on their Web sites. You can also ask a clerk to help decode the fine print on the back of your receipt. But beware: many holiday employees are temporary and may not be clear on store policy.
Order must-have items early. If snagging the best deal is less important than making sure that you get your hands on this season's hottest toys, it's important to get a head-start on your shopping. Last year, retailers vastly overestimated the demand for a number of products and were forced to sell merchandise at bargain basement prices. To ensure this doesn't happen again, many stores are only stocking the bare minimum this holiday season, so supplies could run low, Yochim warns.
Beware of "sales." Just because something is on "sale," doesn't mean it's a good deal. So before you buy, do some retail recon. Go online and compare prices. "The more Web sites you visit to get an apples-to-apples comparison, the easier it will be to recognize a real deal," Yochim says. When you're ready to buy make sure you know exactly what's included in the purchase price or you may find yourself shelling out more for expensive "add-ons." Hint: If you're shopping in stores, bring hard-to-beat online offers to your local retailer and see if it will match the price.
Watch out for "warranties." Many salespeople make commissions off warranties, so if you're in the market for consumer electronics or appliances be prepared to get the hard sell. Yochim advises steering clear of warranties unless you're buying a product that hasn't been on the market long enough to have established reliability ratings. If you do opt for a warranty, you shouldn't be paying more than 20% of the product's purchase price, according to Consumer Reports.
Sweat the big stuff. If you don't have time to methodically search out the best deals for everything on your list, Yochim recommends concentrating your energy on big-ticket items, such as televisions and computers, where you can net the most significant savings.