Would you shop at a store that looks unsafe? Of course not. The same common sense caution should apply to online shopping. To help protect you from fraud and identity theft, RocketLawyer.com has compiled some of our favorite online shopping tips into an easy to remember acronym: I.N.S.P.E.C.T. Remember what each letter stands for to keep your online shopping experience safe and secure.

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I - Identify the site. Look at the web address (the URL) in your browser and confirm that it matches the top level name of the site you want. So, if you are shopping at Amazon.com, make sure the part of the address before ".com" is "amazon." For example, a site with the address www.amazon.sneakysite.com might be a cleverly disguised imposter site. Be especially careful with sites you visit after clicking a link in an email message (which generally should be avoided, unless you expected the messages or trust the sender). Look for certificates from trusted organizations, like Verisign, GeoTrust and the Better Business Bureau that enable you to double check the authenticity of the site. Lastly, install good security software that will warn you of potentially dangerous sites.

N - Never give financial information without a secure connection. If you are going to buy something with your credit card or otherwise provide your name, address, or bank information, make sure to check the URL for https:// (note the "s" for "secure" after http). It is also a good idea, again, to look for the Verisign, GeoTrust or other third party security badges on the site. Make sure that these security badges are active - if you click on them, they should direct you to further information from the issuer verifying your security on the site.

S - See the privacy policy. If you don't see a privacy policy, or if it doesn't contain a promise from the site not to use your personal information for any purpose other than with your permission or as required by law, think about not doing business with the site.

P - Print your receipt, including a description of your merchandise, the terms of service, warranty and any other information you see that you'd like to have in case of a dispute. For large purchases between individuals, consider creating a simple Bill of Sale.

E - Email addresses should only be given to trusted sites with published and customary privacy policies.
Check the pricing, refund and return policy. Look for a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

C - Check the pricing, refund and return policy. Look for a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

T - Track shipping and delivery locations. Choose only secure delivery points for your merchandise. For example, if the items may be left on your doorstep when nobody is home to accept, consider delivery to your place of business. Common carriers like Federal Express, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service all have web sites where you can track and follow up on shipments with the tracking codes that you can obtain from most reputable e-commerce sites.

Following the guidelines in this article can't guarantee you a perfect online shopping experience; if you have problems with a site, you can create a Complaint Letter. Otherwise, the simple rules in the I.N.S.P.E.C.T safe shopping program should reduce your risk of trouble and help ensure that you and those who you may be shopping for online get to enjoy what you've purchased.

To learn more about how you can protect yourself or recover from identity theft, visit the Free Identity Theft Legal Center.   The Center makes it easy to get a Credit Freeze, find a lawyer who can help with identity theft, and more.

Get started Start Your Credit Freeze Request Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.

Get started Start Your Credit Freeze Request Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.