– Tips for the Internet Shopper

Welcome to – Tips for the Internet shopper.

  • Keep your computer safe – Clicking on links in junk e-mail, visiting rouge websites, or downloading unknown software can all cause hackers to obtain your information.  You may get e-mails claiming you have a package, your credit card was charged, you won a prize, you can collect millions of dollars from a relative from someone in the news, and on and on.  Some of these scams attempt to install software on your computer that send them every keystroke (such as passwords and credit card numbers).   Anti-virus software should be running on your system at all times.
  • Know who you are dealing with – if you visit a web site or receive an e-mail you may wish to check the ownership of the domain name.  Many people buy things from legitimate looking web sites with domain names that sound official.  Many legitimate companies create more confusion by using several different domain names.  A “whois” lookup is a check of the domain registration information.  If it is set to “private” you may not want to send them your information. is one place to do whois lookups.  You can also trace IP addresses and see what network it comes from such as tracing e-mail origins.  It is best to check these things before you buy instead of being surprised after the fact.  Many users check this information only after they receive counterfeit items from foreign countries,  in some cases the items cannot be returned because all the paperwork is in Chinese.
  • Check online reviews – There are many online reviews but keep in mind companies plant fake reviews as a way of advertising.
  • Look for reputation scores – Check reputation scores in places such as eBay and Paypal.  Note that these can also be faked to a certain extent.  for instance, someone can sell a large number of inexpensive items to get a high rating only to use that rating to defraud people in higher priced transactions.  For Ebay check the date of sign-up and read the comments for the reviews.
  • Don’t reuse or give out passwords – password theft is becoming more common.  One method is to steal passwords from sites that do not do monetary transactions because the banking and brokerage passwords are often reused.  It is impossible to remeber complicated passwords for many different sites so a password “vault” is recommended.  These programs create different passwords for each site and they are saved in a secure database. has a review of one free password safe called KeePass.
  • Use a bid sniper.  Bid snipers can place a bid in the last few seconds of an auction so others do not have chance to beat your bid.