Take the usual precautions at Internet shops

With just a click of the mouse, consumers can buy just about any product online. From cars, books, electronics to groceries.

With just a click of the mouse, consumers can buy just about any product online. From cars, books, electronics to groceries.

Technology allows you to shop and buy anything without leaving the comfort of your home.

But just as you have to protect yourself in malls, you also have to protect yourself when shopping on the Internet.

It is also always better to do business with companies that you know. If a company is unfamiliar, do as much research as you can before buying anything.

When placing an order, you have to provide information such as your name and address. Often a company will try to get other information by asking questions about your leisure lifestyle or yearly income. Do not answer questions that are not relevant to your order. Often, the site will mark which questions need to be answered with an asterisk. Should a company require information you are not comfortable sharing, leave the site and find another company for the product you want.

Most online shops require you to log on before you make a purchase. You are required to choose a user name and password. Just like your ATM card pin, do not reveal it to anyone. When choosing a password, do not use information such as your birth date or house number. The best password should have at least eight characters including letters and numbers.

Beware of "phishing". Identity thieves send e-mails asking you to update account information for banking details. Legitimate firms don't ask for sensitive information by e-mail. Never give financial information in an e-mail.

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