Cyber Monday: Check out these tips before you checkout

It's Cyber Monday - one of the top shopping days of the year. Before buying anything, you need to make sure you do your research.

Mallory Wojciechowski with the Better Business Bureau says the first step is making sure you are on a legit business website.

"For the hottest item of the year, scam artists will create these look-alike websites that appear to be an actual product you're looking for and often times they are at a great deal, great price, but the website is phony," she adds.

Secure web addresses begin with https:// and not just http://. Also, look for the lock symbol in the address bar as that means the site is secure. Never put personal or credit card information in forms on non-secure web pages.

You also need to look at the delivery date. Check to make sure the item will come in time and see what guarantee do you have that it will arrive on the day you need it. If you're shopping online but not finding that great discount, try this strategy, put the item in your cart, but then abandon it, meaning close out your browser without buying it.

Sometimes retailers will send you an email shortly after, like "we noticed you left a few things in your cart, here is a coupon to help you with checkout." If you do this just make sure you keep track of when the deal ends so you don't miss it.

Here are some more Cyber Monday tips from the BBB.

  • Price check before you buy. Dozens of online retailers will claim they have the best price on an item, but their offers can be misleading. Do your homework by comparing prices. Remember that the best deal may not be the real deal.
  • Take advantage of rewards and loyalty programs. Check your credit card rewards program for special point offers that could add up on Cyber Monday and throughout the holidays. Make purchases using loyalty programs; many major retailers have them.
  • Use your credit card. It's always best to make online purchases with your credit card. If any shady charges turn up later, you will be able to contest them through your credit card company. Debit cards don't offer this same protection. Never make purchases with online sellers by giving them prepaid debit cards or wiring them money.
  • Understand return policies. Online store policies may change for Cyber Monday offers. Read the fine print before you buy. Understand the return or exchange policy for the specific item you would like to purchase. Be aware that stores may not allow returns for "final sale" or "closeout" items. Make sure to get gift receipts, so the recipient can return or exchange the item if necessary.
  • Watch out for phishing scams. Busy schedules and increased purchases make it easier to miss - and fall victim to - a phishing scam. Look out for unsolicited emails, texts, calls, or letters. These messages may claim you have a free gift waiting for you or that there is a problem with a delivery - all you need to do is click on a link or give up your personal information. Avoid phishing scams by ignoring suspicious correspondence and calls from unfamiliar phone numbers
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