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Safer Holiday Shopping: Tips for Seniors

Kimberley Fowler
By Kimberley FowlerNovember 30, 2018

As Christmas nears, you may turn to online shopping as a convenient way to wrap up the outstanding gifts on your holiday to-do list. This form of holiday shopping is safe, as long as you follow some specific online practices.

Learn more about how to do safer holiday shopping online this season.

Holiday Shopping Tips for Seniors

Doing your holiday shopping online is a preferred method of shopping for many people, especially seniors with mobility and transportation issues. Digital Commerce 360 states that consumers spent $453.46 billion on the web for retail purchases in 2017, a 16.0% increase compared with $390.99 billion in 2016.

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Whether you are new to online holiday shopping or a seasoned online shopper, the following cautions, tips and tricks will help you navigate the internet this season.

Here are our top holiday shopping tips for seniors:

Cautions

1. If it seems “too good to be true,” it probably is.

It is important to keep your wits about you when shopping online. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Some common online shopping scams include being told you have won a contest that you did not enter or being offered an incredibly low price on a high value item. Unless you are “checking out” of a trusted website, you should never be prompted to input your credit card information. There is also no reason to disclose your social security information, ever.

Tips

1. Check your bank and credit card statements.

PCMag suggests checking your electronic bank and credit card statements regularly throughout the holiday season to ensure your charges are accurate and that there is no unusual activity on your accounts. If you do notice something strange, contact your bank or credit card provider immediately – often you have up to 30 days to dispute a purchase.

2. Read the fine print.

Be aware of important details such as additional fees, return policies, shipping and taxes. Exorbitant shipping costs can double the purchase price of an online item and there may be restrictions on returns, depending on where the product is being shipped from.

3. Use strong and unique passwords.

It may seem like a hassle, but creating strong passwords that are different for every account you hold – and include a variety of characters like letters in lower and upper case, numbers and symbols – is the best way to protect yourself from hackers and individuals trying to access your personal information. It is worth taking the time to create and jot down your unique passwords to protect your credit and identity. Connect Safely has great information to keep seniors safe online and offers tips on how create a secure password.

4. Visit trusted websites.

If you are new to online shopping, visit only trusted retailers that you are familiar with. Almost every major retail outlet from Amazon to Target and Walmart has an online store and have proven to be trusted and safe, with excellent customer service and quality assurance. PCMag also advises to look in the web address bar for a locked padlock icon graphic and a site that starts with “https://.” This means that the site has SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption, making it private and secure for online purchases.

Caution: Ensure you’re on the correct website before making a purchase. There are “fake” websites out there designed to look like the retailer the scammers are imitating. To be sure, double check the spelling of the URL in the address bar. If you notice spelling errors like “Wallmart” instead of Walmart, then you know you’re not in the right place.

Tricks

1. Check for eligible coupons.

There are plenty of reputable third party websites that offer discount codes and coupons for online purchases. According to How Stuff Works, coupon sites like CouponCabin and RetailMeNot “gather coupons from around the internet and consolidate them in one easy to search location.” Keep in mind that reputable coupon sites will not ask for your credit card or social security information.

2. Sign up for brand or store newsletters.

Most major online retailers offer customers perks such as special discounts or free shipping as a reward for signing up for their newsletters. According to Buzzfeed, new customers can “receive anywhere from 5-30% for signing up” and monthly or weekly emails contain even more potential deals.

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

What other holiday shopping tips would you add to this list? We’d like to hear your suggestions in the comments below.

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Kimberley Fowler
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Kimberley Fowler
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