Deals still available on Cyber Monday

COVINGTON -- If you didn't get that pair of jeans you were looking for at Kohl's at 5 a.m. Friday or you decided to sleep in to avoid the crowds instead of buying a new iPhone, you may still have a chance at a good deal tomorrow.

Cyber Monday -- the Monday after Thanksgiving -- has become one of the most popular days to shop for the holidays over the last several years.

Shopping online means avoiding the crowds that pack many stores this time of year and getting to browse store items in your pajamas in the comforts of your living room.

"Consumers are increasingly shopping and buying both online and in-store this holiday season," said Vicki Cantrell, Shop.org executive director. "Savvy retailers are getting the word out to customers about in-store offers and events using online vehicles such as Facebook, email, Twitter and mobile alerts. Now more than ever retailers are integrating their digital and in-store promotions, working to create that seamless shopping experience that they know consumers demand and expect."

A record 85 percent of online retailers will offer special promotions on Cyber Monday, up from 78.4 percent last year, according to Shop.org's eHoliday survey conducted by BIGinsight.

However the biggest treat will be free shipping without conditions: 44.1 percent of retailers polled will offer it on Cyber Monday, up significantly from the 12.5 percent who said so last year. Another 29.4 percent will offer free standard shipping with conditions.

"There's no question that one of shoppers' favorite deals is free shipping, in fact, many expect it, and retailers are responding," said Pam Goodfellow, BIGinsight Consumer Insights director. "The free shipping savings plus any additional discount or promotion should pique online shoppers' interest this year."

Even though you may get a good deal shopping online, you could end up losing out in the end, if you aren't safe.

"The convenience and ease of shopping online has replaced the hassle of going to the store for many people, but online shopping has its own set of risks," said Fred T. Elsberry Jr., President & CEO of the BBB serving metro Atlanta, Athens and Northeast Georgia.

The BBB has issued online shopping tips for holiday shoppers to help fight unscrupulous online retailers, scammers and hackers:

-- Protect your computer -- A computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.

-- Shop on trustworthy websites -- Always look for the BBB seal and other widely recognized "trustmarks" on retailer websites and click on the seals to confirm that they are valid.

-- Protect your personal information -- Read the site's privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used.

-- Beware of deals that sound too good to be true -- Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails can often sound too good to be true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items.

-- Beware of phishing --Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the buyer into revealing financial information.

-- Confirm your online purchase is secure --Shoppers should always look in the Web address box for the "s" in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the "lock" symbol before paying.

-- Pay with a credit card -- It's best to use a credit card, because under federal law, the shopper can dispute the charges if he or she doesn't receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card, and many card issuers have "zero liability" policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.

-- Keep documentation of your order -- After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by email, so save a copy of the Web page and any emails for future reference as a record of the purchase.

-- Check your credit card statements often -- Don't wait for paper statements; check for suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or by checking statements online regularly.

-- Know your rights -- Federal law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren't shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund.