Shop on trustworthy websites. Check a seller's reputation and record for customer satisfaction at bbb.org. Look for the BBB seal and click to confirm the link is valid.
Beware of “too good to be true” deals. Offers on websites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Go with your instincts and don’t be afraid to pass up a "deal."
Beware of phishing. If you receive an e-mail claiming problems with an order that asks for personal information or financial information, BBB recommends calling the contact number on the website where the purchase was made to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.
Confirm the website is secure. Always look in the address box for the "s" in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the "lock" symbol before making an online purchase. If there are any doubts about a site, right-click anywhere on the page and select "properties." to see the real URL and if the site is not encrypted.
Pay with a credit card. Under federal law, charges made on a credit card can be disputed if the item is never received. Many card issuers also have "zero liability" policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.
Review the return policy. A return policy should be clearly listed on the company’s website. Be sure to read all conditions associated with the return policy, specifically how long you have to return an item. If you do not see the return policy listed, contact the company and ask them to provide you the information in writing.
Verify when to expect shipped item. Pay close attention to the estimated delivery time to ensure you will get your item before Christmas. Federal law requires that orders made online be shipped by the date promised, however, if no delivery time is stated, stores have up to 30 days to get the item to you. And if it takes 30 days to receive the item you’re purchasing on Cyber Monday, you will not receive the item in time for Christmas.
Keep documentation of your order. After completing the online order process, there should be a final confirmation page or an email confirmation. Print and save any confirmations for future reference.
Editor's note: Click here for additional tips from the Better Business Bureau.