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The great rush to buy holiday gifts on the day after Thanksgiving, also known as “Black Friday,” has changed. Of course, you can be certain that malls and shops will still be crowded with bargain hunters in a frenzy of post-Thanksgiving shopping. However, the Internet has added a new dimension to the usual popular gift-buying days.

Cyber Monday” is the new name given to the first Monday following the Thanksgiving weekend, and it’s the online equivalent of “Black Friday” for holiday shopping. Shoppers flock to the Web to get special deals or make purchases on items they’ve considered over the previous weekend.

As consumers have gotten more accustomed to shopping online, the amount of money spent on Cyber Monday has crept steadily higher, according to Internet marketing research firm comScore. Online sales for the day have gone from $608 million in 2006 to $887 million in 2009.

Still, many shoppers are concerned about the security of buying items online. Being smart about online shopping includes knowing how to get the best deals – but you also need to know how to do so safely.

The Federal Trade Commission offers online shopping safety tips on its website at Advice from the FTC includes:

  • Don’t e-mail personal information such as your credit card, checking account or Social Security numbers to any seller; it’s not a secure way to transmit information. To pay safely online, look for websites with indicators that the seller has security measures in place, like a lock icon in the browser’s status bar or a URL that begins with “https.” The “s” stands for “secure.”
  • Look for retail merchants that offer a verifiable physical address and phone number in case you have questions or problems. Never reply to e-mails or click on pop-up messages that ask for personal or financial information.

When you’re sure you’re shopping on a secure website, you can consider these holiday shopping tips as well.

  • Look for extra discounts. If you’ve shopped at a certain retailer’s online shop before, check your e-mails for codes that can give you discounts. There are also a number of online coupon code sites, where you can find coupons from major retailers that can cut the price you’re paying or waive shipping fees.
  • Don’t wait. The longer you wait to shop, the higher shipping charges will be – and shipping coupons might expire a number of days before the final rush of shopping. Plan ahead and you’ll have the largest selection and the lowest cost.

  • Get your holiday shopping done early, and save time and money this season with these smart tips for Cyber Monday.

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    Author: Andy Quayle

    Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
    Known globally as a willing source for tech news and views, Andy takes great pride in consultation and education.

    Should his schedule permit, Andy is available to help you with your SEO and Web Analytics needs.