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Instead of elbowing your way through crowded stores on Black Friday this year, get a jump on holiday shopping in the comfort of your own home. Whether you hit the websites on Black Friday, wait until Cyber Monday or shop another day, here are seven tips to help you score the best deals—safely.

Safe Shopping

Use a secure Internet connection

No matter which device you’re using to shop online, don’t do it over public Wi-Fi, as your credit card info could be easily stolen. The same is true for a public computer, such as one at your local library. At home, make sure your security software is up-to-date, to better protect your computer against viruses and spyware.

Stick with legit websites

Before you buy anything, be sure the web address begins with “https” or includes the lock icon, both of which indicate a secure site Think twice about buying from unfamiliar websites, even if they offer deep discounts: They could be bogus; they may not keep your credit card info secure; or they could infect your computer with a virus. If the company is new to you, use the Better Business Bureau’s search tool to first review any complaints.

Use a credit card, not a debit card

If a fraudulent transaction occurs, a credit card offers protections that allow you to dispute charges you didn’t make or approve. That’s generally not the case with debit and gift card, though, so you may be out of luck (and money) if a fraudulent charge occurs. To keep things simple, use one credit card for all your online purchases and check your statements carefully for accuracy.

Keep records of your orders

Save the email confirmation or take a screenshot of the confirmation page and hold on to it until you receive the item and know that you’re satisfied with your purchase.

Stay safe

Find more ways to protect yourself online at the Allstate education hub The Hidden World of Data.

Save While Shopping

Zero in on the details

Take your time while shopping online and read the fine print, including information about shipping costs and return policies, before submitting your order. While many online orders can be returned for a full refund, others carry restocking fees and/or return-shipping costs—details you’ll want to know before you buy. Also, read the site’s privacy policy to find out how your personal information will be used or shared.

Look for rebates and coupons

Type the company’s name and “coupon” or “discount” into a major search engine and you may uncover codes for hidden deals, discounts or free shipping. Some rebates or coupons can be redeemed when you check out; others require you to send documentation to the manufacturer to get your rebate.

Take advantage of sites that let you compare prices

By connecting you to different retailers that sell the same product, comparison shopping sites can help you focus on purchase prices, shipping and handling costs, and taxes so you can get the best deal. Be sure to compare the return policies, too.

Did You Know?

Online shopping sales hit a record $108.2 billion during the 2017 holiday season—a 14.7% increase from the previous year.