Whilsts the holiday season makes way for last minute shopping, the thought of joining the crowd in the mall, finding parking space and traffic jams may drive shivers down your spine. Having to go through this every year, perhaps this time you should consider a new alternative - online shopping!
Comfort of your home
All you need is internet access and a credit card and you're on your way to shopping haven. Shopping on via the Internet gives your more choices through accesibility to an unlimited range of online stores worldwide. Plus you get to do this all within the comfort of your home.

More time
As most people complain about the lack of time having to cram the last minute shopping into their schedule, the flexibility of online shopping relieves the stress of gathering information of a product and fighthing for that last piece of blouse that you have been wanting to get- but never had the time. With the Internet, you can spend as much time as you want, at your own pace.

Payment Made Easy
The payment for purchases through the Internet have become flexible with more payment options being offered. If you are uncertain about using your credit card, there are always options such as invoice billing, smart cards (using a reader) and digital wallet (where you can authorize which bank account to be credited from).

The woes of secure credit card payment can be overcome if you are aware of the process sending confidential information to maintain confidentiality. Companies that provide a secure infrastructure usually implement an extensive authentication measure such as verification from the credit card company and the use of digital signature to ensure true authentication of customers.
When asked for your credit card details, check that you are offered a secure transaction through the company's explaination of encryption methods used. The encryption software will scramble your personal data so that it will not be tampered or accessed except for the recipient.
You can be more comfortable with making purchases online, if you play a part by taking the necessary precautions :
Request for your credit card company to issue you with a special credit card to be used for online purchases. A low credit limit will make you a less obvious target for fraudsters;

Reduce the credit limit on this card to a realistic amount, reflecting how much you spend online a month.

Find out from the customer service department of your credit card company the following:
- Do they keep an eye on buying patterns so that they can spot an unusual activity? If they do see something unusual, what is their reaction or procedure? Do they phone, write, fax to you or cancel the card?

Always print and keep a copy of your order or any Web pages showing the details of your transaction. If someone abuses your credit card information, you can use it to trace the people who share your card information and to establish your buying pattern;

Always open and check your credit card statement on arrival. Ignoring the statement implies you agree to the contents.

Deal only with merchants who have secure online transactions. A secure site is usually authenticated with certification from companies such as Verisign or Digicert (Malaysian-based).

Don't trust the phone. Cheeky impostors will call your house, pretending to be officials checking your credit card details;

Don't give credit card information to people who call you. Ask for their names and call the company back after you've made sure the number matches the correct company name.

Be careful not to sacrifice your privacy and always read the Privacy Agreement prior to submitting your personal information.