Malls aren’t the only place to find crowds of shoppers this holiday season. A 24 percent increase in online sales, to nearly $7 billion over the recent holiday weekend, according to Bloomberg, indicates the information superhighway is crowded with shoppers too.
Bloomberg cites New York-based Nielsen in reporting that the number of online shoppers increased 29 percent on the day after Thanksgiving. Data from Visa seems to confirm that, indicating approximately $505 million in Visa-related transactions were made on “Cyber Monday”, representing an increase of 26 percent over the previous year, ZDNet reports. Bloomberg also reports that online sales rose 55 percent to $441 million on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, according to research firm ComScore Networks Inc.
“E-tailers will have a banner year this year,” Brad Nightengale, Visa’s vice president of emerging products predicted to ZDNet.
Internet retailers are offering free shipping and discounts to lure shoppers. It seems to be working. That Consumers are becoming more comfortable with the online purchasing process doesn’t hurt either.
To minimize online shopping problems, IINC, a non-profit, non-lobbying insurance trade association, suggests:
- Use a credit card. Credit cards are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Consumers will only be held liable for the first $50 of unauthorized purchases.
- Shop known web sites. Sticking with companies you know can help eliminate the stress of dealing with an unknown retailer over an unfamiliar channel.
- Check the “lock”. Before entering your personal data on any web site, verify that the “lock” icon is displayed on your browser window indication a secure site. The “lock” means your data will be encrypted during transmission and secure from theft.
- Print receipts. Keep receipts until both your order and your bill arrive. Verify that you receive what you purchased when the order arrives. Verify the price of the item at the time you made your online purchase is the same as the price on your credit card bill.
Identity Theft insurance is also available for those needing more reassurance before making an online purchase. Premiums range between $25 and $50 for $15,000 to $25,000 in coverage and are available as both a stand alone policy or as part of a homeowner insurance policy. Identity theft policies can help reimburse expenses incurred while reestablishing credit should your identity be stolen.