As online shopping becomes more popular it is important to exercise safety precautions to make this new American pastime rewarding, problem free and our efforts to save both time and money an excursion we will surly duplicate over and over again with confidence. E-commerce sales are growing at an astronomical rate and along with its popularity grow the possibility of identity theft. Shopping online is not likely to go away as it is a great source for saving money. We save because online stores aren’t paying to rent buildings, storage space, or supplying employee payroll and benefits packages. The list of savings is endless and ultimately because of savings, prices are reduced. You, the savvy online (e-commerce) shopper get the well deserved discounts. By using some of the tips, tricks and guidance that follow, you’ll be able to maintain all the advantages of online shopping. Remember, online shopping can be fun, easy and rewarding if accomplished correctly. So the very first and most important thing to remember is to never give out your social security number online. If the company demands it as a prerequisite to place your order, find another shopping mall! Giving out that kind of personal data leaves you wide open to a hacker and subsequent identity theft. Always take the time to read the sites privacy and security policies. This is where you find out just exactly the type of information they will be requesting when you order. They list usually whom they will be sharing your information with and why they collect that information about you. If they sell your personal information to list companies be prepared to be inundated with advertisements as there is usually a clause giving them the right and your approval to this advertisement barrage. Look for special seals of approval from Trust E and the Better Business Bureau online as these and other companies do have and adhere to strict guidelines for privacy and security issues. Looking at the web address and seeing an “s” after the http another words, web addresses starting with an https:// tells and ensures you the site is a secure website. This basically means your personal data is scrambled so it can not be hacked into. An additional safeguard to look for is a picture of a padlock on the site. A picture of a locked/closed padlock means the site is secure. An open padlock means the site is not secure. This picture is normally located at the bottom of the webpage screen. Do not use your debit card or a personal check to order products online as this can leave your bank account vulnerable. You are basically throwing away the protection afforded by the protection a credit card offers when things go wrong with a purchase. There are many third party payment options that protect the integrity of a sale. Papal for example is a third party agency set up for online consumer protection and your purchase is protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. You can have fun and save time doing comparison shopping on the internet but I’d like to close with an insider secret and that is to simply shy away from EBay or Ubid shopping. I’m not saying there aren’t deals but bear in mind with their ever growing popularity and ease of posting; these sites are loaded with wholesale re-distributors. They shop wholesale malls, add a mark-up, post their deal and hope you will get caught up in the excitement of their product auctions. Don’t let your emotions get caught up in the competition on these sites. The savvy internet consumer can get some great personal savings on the many wholesale and discount malls available above and beyond the auction/seller sites previously mentioned. Online shopping can save you a bundle and a whole lot of gas when not chasing sales out and around the city. Just be safe and take the few precautions we talked about. Your online experience can be highly rewarding, convenient and secure.