LAS CRUCES -- When the long holiday weekend is over, the leftovers have been eaten and holiday shopping has started in earnest it is time to turn to the Internet for some shoppers.
You return to work on Monday and get the week started, right? Sure, but for some of you, it is another time to look for shopping deals. Just make sure your boss is not watching over your shoulder.
Monday is famously known as Cyber Monday, a day when people return to work after time off for Thanksgiving and a lot of shopping. Many shoppers keep looking for deals, though, and since they are stuck at their desk, they turn to the Internet. Due to that, retailers have pumped the day up as the Black Friday of computer shopping.
Last year, nearly $1.5 billion was spent on Cyber Monday. That is nearly double what was spent in 2008. Forbes reports that sales could reach $1.8 billion this year. Overall, shoppers are expected to spend nearly $62 billion online throughout the holiday season, up more than 15 percent from 2012.
Also, 47 percent of shopping done in the U.S. was done from work computers.
"I do as much shopping online as I can not only for the holidays but throughout the year," Ray Piper said.
Terri Horn, though, is wary of shopping online.
"I don't usually like to shop online," she said on the Sun-News Facebook page. "There are lots of great deals but what most people don't realize is how much shipping and handling costs get jacked up."
Beware of ...
Here are some things to watch out for:
--Restocking fees. While some retailers charge up to 25 percent or more, a fee of 15 percent of the price you paid for the returned item has become customary for intensively packaged products, like electronics. Before proceeding to checkout, familiarize yourself with the retailer's return policies, which should be explicitly stated somewhere on its Web site.
--Shipping costs. Check out the website to see if you are responsible to pay for shipping and how much that will Cost. See if there are geographic or other restrictions for delivery. Find out if there are choices for shipping.
--Return/cancellation policy. Learn the merchant's cancellation, return and complaint-handling policies. Find out who pays for shipping and if there is a time limit or other restrictions to the return or cancellation.
A little help
There are many different websites that help shoppers. You can conduct an Internet search with keywords such as "Cyber Monday" and "online shopping help" will bring up links to places you can start. Here are a few sites that might also be helpful:
--CyberMonday.com points out online bargains.
--NexTag.com lets you comparison shop.
--FindGift.com is dedicated to aggregating lists of gift ideas.
--CheckBestCoupons.com compiles online deals.
--Secure your computer and mobile devices. Be sure your computer and mobile devices are current with all operating system and application software updates.
--Use mobile applications with caution. As devices such as smartphones and tablets, continue to gain popularity for online shopping.
Update all apps when notified and disable Bluetooth and Near Field Communications when not in use to reduce the risk of your data, such as a credit card number, being intercepted by a nearby device.
--Know your online merchants. Limit online shopping to merchants you know and trust. Only go to sites by directly typing the URL in the address bar.
--Consider using a credit card, not a debit card. Credit cards are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act and may reduce your liability if your information is used improperly.
--Look for "https" before you click "Purchase." You should always do this.
--Do not respond to pop-ups that promise you cash, bargains or gift cards in exchange for your response to a survey or other questions.
--Do not use public computers or public wireless access for your online shopping.
--Secure your home Wi-Fi.
--Be alert for potential charity donation scams. Cyber criminals try to take advantage of people's generosity during the holiday season and can use fake charity requests as a means to gain access to your information or computer/device.
Brook Stockberger may be reached at 575-541-5457.
(c)2013 the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.)
Visit the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.) at www.lcsun-news.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
Original headline: Cyber Monday has become big business
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