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Ways to shop safely online

When you shop online, pay by credit card. It is easier to dispute charges you paid to a seller with a credit card if the goods are not delivered or they were misrepresented.

When you enter your credit card or other personally identifying information, check to make sure you are using a secure server. Look in the location bar for "https://" instead of "http://." The "S" means secure.

Find goods and services by looking up the websites of well known retailers. You can also use a search engine to locate possible online retailers, but be sure to scrutinize the companies and websites you find.

Your best bet is to deal with a company that has a physical address, a history and a good reputation. DON'T rely entirely on information provided by the business itself. DO NOT buy in response to unsolicited email offers, otherwise known as SPAM.

Be realistic. Check out the price range of common items by visiting a number of well known retail websites. If an unknown source offers Jobs Adthe same merchandise at ridiculously low prices, you should be suspicious. The Internet is largely unregulated. The fact is, some operators will simply take your money and never deliver the goods. Others are selling extremely shoddy and/or counterfeit merchandise. With unknown sources, you will have little recourse in either case.

Keep in mind that seeing a picture or reading a description of an item is not the same as inspecting a product in person. Internet commerce is especially vulnerable to counterfeit products and sellers who are intent on making misrepresentations about their products.

Understand how online auctions work — i.e., the auction does not verify or stand behind the merchandise being sold or the veracity of representations made about the merchandise.

When selling online, beware of phony cashier's checks. Rogue buyers will offer to send a cashier's check for too much money and ask you to wire back the difference. These buyers are crooks. The counterfeits are excellent: don't believe it if a bank teller says it's okay. It isn't.

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