Before you fork over your credit card number and other info, make sure you're following these five safety tips.

  1. Make sure the URL says HTTPS -- Also look for the small padlock icon in the address bar when you are checking out. Both of those will indicate that you are shopping on a secure site.
  2. Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date – Check that it is running and not disabled for some reason. This should stop you from going to an unsafe shopping site. Make sure that you have the most current version of your browser (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer) to assure that you will have the most current protections against spyware and adware.
  3. Don't follow links in emails -- Do not to click the link in an email. Instead open a new webpage and go directly to the website that way. It is only clicking links from those direct e-mail sources that can get you in trouble.
  4. Use a different password at every site – Use a password with a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  5. Password protect your phone and tablet -- Always make purchases over a secure and password-protected WiFi network, not on the free WiFi at retailers and restaurants
  6. Read before you buy -- Read and understand refund and return policies and warranties, including the fine print. Also utilize gift receipts so your giftees canl have happy returns.
  7. Price comparison tools -- To avoid buyer's remorse and make sure you're getting the lowest prices, use a price comparison site like Google Products, or install a browser extension like Priceblink or Invisible Hand.
  8. Amazon Prime Membership - You will probably purchase something from Amazon so be sure to ask friends or relatives to add you to their account. Membership perks can be shared with up to four people.
  9. Keep a non-paper trail -- Take a screenshot or print all your receipts and payment confirmations just in case you don't receive the promised email confirmation.
  10. Credit over debit -- Use your credit card instead of your debit card in case you need to dispute a purchase. It's much easier to dispute a credit card purchase. Under federal law, the shopper can dispute the charges if he or she doesn’t receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card
  11. Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses do not send e-mails claiming problems with an order or an account with a link to fix the problem and reveal financial information. If you get an email that you are concerned about, pick up the phone and call the company where you made the purchase to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.
  12. Know your rights – Federal law requires that orders made online be shipped by the date promised or at least within 30 days if no delivery time was listed. If the goods aren’t shipped on time, you can cancel the order and demand a refund. Consumers have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s the company’s policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.