Protecting your online shopping purchases

November 28, 2011 4:16:11 PM PST
If you have yet to hit the cyber shopping aisles, you can still find great deals on the internet. But there's a word of warning when it comes to shipping.

Having your online purchases sent to your home may open you up to Grinches looking for gifts left on door steps. There are better options.

More people are cyber shopping than ever. In fact this year is on pace to be one of the busiest cyber Mondays retailers have ever seen. With all those gifts being bought and sent to your door step, the odds are things will go missing after it gets delivered.

From your keyboard to your front door, cyber shopping is great until the gift goes missing.

Katherine Cabaniss with Houston Crime Stoppers said, "It actually happened to me last year. I had a package delivered that was a Christmas gift for a family member, and it was gone by the time that I got home."

Cabaniss may run Houston's Crime Stoppers, but it did not keep her from falling victim to thieves spent last December prowling neighborhoods for packages.

She said, "We have heard stories of cars driving through neighborhoods just looking to see what is sitting on someone's door step just waiting to be taken."

Cabaniss says unfortunately her experience is not unusual and retailers know it.

"It's so common that they were not even surprised," she explained. "That is what is really upsetting and astounding that it happens so commonly that you can get the store to replace it, but you certainly don't want to have to do that."

With record numbers of consumers hitting the web for gifts, more merchandise than ever will be sitting unprotected on door steps. But there are things you can do to keep the Grinch at bay.

"You can ask that the package be delivered to a neighbor that you know and trust or you can have it sent to your office," advised Monica Russo with Houston's Better Business Bureau.

Russo says consumers should always know a store's lost items policy and if you don't have a safe place to send your gifts, try having them sent to the nearest store location to you.

"That is an option, too, and I think in a lot of these cases that shipping is free," Russo said. "So you can just have it sent to the store and know that it will be there waiting for after you pay for it."

As for shopping online, there are things you can do to keep yourself safe, First before buying anything, look for the "s" in the address bar once you get to the payment screen. Also if buying from eBay, research the seller, look for high ratings and read through the attached comments before you buy. The same goes with Amazon marketplace sellers.

And finally if you use a promo code, make sure the discount shows up at checkout.

Right now, some stores are making you spend more to get free shipping, but on December 16 a lot of retailers are participating in Free Shipping Day. If you order goods online on that day they will give you free shipping and guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve.

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