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How to find great online deals and avoid problems on Cyber Monday

CROMWELL - This is Cyber Monday, one of the busiest discount shopping days of the year, and Connecticut Better Business Bureau says you can save time and money if you have a plan.

On Cyber Monday, the holiday buying frenzy moves out of the stores and onto the internet, where consumers will find substantial discounts on a huge variety of merchandise ranging from computers, smart phones, TVs and toys, to apparel and jewelry. The array of discounted goods is mind-boggling.

Thousands of retailers are offering "internet only" specials to move merchandise left over from Black Friday.

"Not everybody can or wants to camp out waiting for the doors to open or fight the crowds. Cyber Monday allows consumers to benefit from holiday price slashing in the comfort of their homes," said Connecticut Better Business Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz. "There are ways consumers can find heavily discounted items, while avoiding some potential pitfalls associated with online commerce."

Connecticut BBB offers these tips to help find what you are looking for without becoming the victim of fraud:

  • Begin with a wish list - This can help you stay within your budget and avoid impulse purchases.
  • Comparison shop before buying - Check to see what deals the competition is offering. This will give you an idea of how much money you are actually saving on any given website.
  • Watch out for fees - Most large sellers offer free shipping, but some websites add shipping and handling fees which can make the total price less appealing than it seems.
  • Check the website's terms and conditions - The fine print contains crucial information, such as any exclusions, and information about return/exchange policies. These should be prominent on sellers' websites.
  • Be careful about navigation - Be careful when clicking links from social media sites or unsolicited email. While you click around the web to find the best price, try not to wander too far. You could end up on a fake web page that downloads a virus onto your computer or takes your payment information, delivers nothing and then disappears.
  • Select a safe payment method - The safest way to complete your transactions is to use an online payment or escrow service or a credit card. If you don't have one, consider buying a pre-loaded card. Avoid using a debit card online, as well as websites that insist on payment through an untraceable method such as wire transfer or gift card. If a seller refuses to accept safe payment methods, it is a huge red flag.
  • Look for "S" for security - Before you enter any information, make sure the web address has the suffix "S" and a padlock icon. When you see "https" in your browser's address bar, it means the seller is taking precautions to protect your information.
  • You can squeeze even more out of Cyber Monday by checking manufacturers' websites for refurbished merchandise, open-box or used products.

You will find additional smart shopping tips here.

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