As the holiday season is upon us, many seniors turn to online shopping to complete their shopping list. By shopping on the internet, seniors can save money and time right from the convenience of their home. Online shopping can allow seniors to be more independent by helping them shop at their leisure. This form of holiday shopping is safe, but there are some helpful tips to prevent problems.

Tips for Holiday Online Shopping 
Shopping online has become a common practice for many people, especially those who want to stay at home. As online shopping grows more popular and the population grows older, seniors shopping online will increase.

Holiday shopping, especially online, can be confusing and daunting. There are great tricks and tips that will help you navigate the online web safely this holiday season.

1. Read the fine print and double check.

Often with online purchasing, there are important details to read through before finalizing the transaction. It is wise to always check for return policies, taxes and shipping, and any other additional fees. Shipping costs can often cost more than the item being purchased. Always double check the final amount you are paying before completing your order.

2. It's okay to be skeptical.

Often a website will have an offer that appears too good to be true. Online scammers will often make it look like you won a contest that you didn't participate in or offer a price on a high-end value that doesn't seem right. If you are unsure about a website, research and read online reviews if possible.

3. Use a trusted and secure website.

Be sure that the website you are using is a secure one. Look for a small padlock symbol in the address bar (or elsewhere in your browser window) and a web address beginning with https:// (the s stands for 'secure'). You also need to check that the website is trustworthy. Check the spelling of the URL in the address bar. Sometimes fake websites will design their pages to look like the real store. You should notice this if the name is spelled incorrectly.

4. Read through your credit card and bank statements.

It is always wise to read through your bank and credit card statements no matter what time of the year. It is especially wise to check through them during the holiday season. When going through your statements, be sure to look for any suspicious activity and correct charges. If anything appears odd in your statement, contact your credit card company or bank immediately. You typically have 30 days to dispute an incorrect charge.

5. Use strong and unique passwords.

Creating a password can often be a nuisance. It is worth taking the time to create and write down your unique passwords to protect your credit and identity. Here are some suggestion when creating your password:

- Never give out your password to anyone.* Never give it to friends, even         if they're really good friends.
- Don't just use one password for every website.
- Make the password at least 12 characters long if the website will allow you to.
- Include numbers, capital letters and symbols.
- Don't post your password in plain sight.

6. Do not give too much information out.

You should never be asked for your Social Security number online while shopping. If you’re asked for very personal details, such as your Social Security number, contact customer service. It is best to leave the website and find a more trust-worthy accommodating website for your holiday purchases.

Some Tricks
1. "Walk away" from your online shopping cart.
Retailers will often send an email to you if you abandon your shopping cart. Sometimes these reminder emails about your shopping cart will come with an additional coupon or discount.

2. Check for in-store pickup.
You can avoid paying shipping costs on an online order by having it sent to a physical store location near you. This is also helpful if you are in a rush to have your item delivered or you don't want to pay a shipping fee. Many chain retailers offer free shipping for the holiday season.

3. Sign up for brand or store newsletters.
Most major online retailers offer customers a special discounts or free shipping as a reward for signing up for their online newsletters. Often a monthly or weekly email will contain even more potential deals. You can unsubscribe from these emails at any time and it is fairly easy to do so.

4. Mark your calendars.

One of the best online shopping days of the year is on Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is always the Monday following Thanksgiving. You can often find the same prices online on this day that you would find in stores on Black Friday. Many online retailers offer free shipping on this day as well. If you miss Cyber Monday, check websites throughout that week for other deals they have for the holiday season.

By being vigilant and thinking clearly to protect your personal information, you can become a smart and experienced online shopper and have safer holiday shopping this season.

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