TALLAHASSEE — Thanksgiving was on the latest date possible this year, so there are barely three weeks left for shopping before Christmas.

According to the National Retail Federation, 56% of shoppers will be doing at least part of their shopping online this year, with average holiday spending up 4%, to nearly $1,050. About 70% of that will be for presents.

Cyber Monday spending alone was $9.4 billion, Adobe Analytics reported.

Sales and discounts are what consumers find most enticing, the Federation states, and there’s no shortage of emails with special offers flowing into inboxes this time of year.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody offers these tips to avoid having your holiday ruined by an online Grinch.

• Make sure your web browser has a secure connection before submitting payment information while ordering online. A padlock should appear in the address bar to the left of the website name if the session is secure.

• Use a credit card for online transactions instead of a debit card. You can dispute a charge under either one but with a debit card the purchase price is immediately deducted from your bank account and you don’t have the use of the money for however long it takes the charge to be reversed.

• Check whether your credit card offers any of these additional safety features: a one-time card number to be used for online transactions; an email alert when an amount over a specified limit is charged on the card; or the ability to lock the card when you don’t anticipate using it.

Information about these features is on your credit card company’s website.

• Create separate strong passwords for online accounts using a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.

• Limit the number of companies that have your personal information and the amount of information they have. Online retailers only need your payment information and your billing and delivery addresses.

• Don’t click on ads, coupons or email solicitations from unknown senders. Company and product reviews are easy to find online and can tell you whether a deal that seems too good to be true, is.

Moody’s office put out its 2019 Holiday Consumer Protection Guide on Monday. In addition to online shopping tips, it also has advice about charitable giving and nearly 100 pages of product recalls. You can find it at MyFloridaLegal.com.


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