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An increasing number of people just like you are doing most of their shopping directly from their home computers. It's as easy as pointing and clicking. But there are a few key points you need to keep in mind before you shop... to give you peace of mind.

1. Shop with companies you know. Most of the companies you do business with have Internet web sites. Go to those sites first. You already know their standards for business practices from personal experience.

2. If you want to try a new store, ask them to send you a paper catalog or pamphlet about their merchandise and services and find out their return policies before you do business.

3. Check out Internet security. This mainly has to do with your Internet connection services and the software you use to get online. Know whether the information you're sending over the Internet is secure or unsecure. When you're sending your credit card information over a secure Internet browser, you're scrambling the data you're sending, so no one else can read it.

4. Don't give out your passwords to anyone. You'll get lots of junk e-mail from people wanting you to give them your password. Keep it to yourself.

5. If you're asked to give detailed personal information just to make a purchase on the Internet, watch out! Some scam artists know how to use personal information against you.

6. Only click the "Buy" button on the company's web site once. Often it takes a second or two for the browser to process your order. If you hit the button more than once, you may end up with more than one pair of shoes.

7. Print out a copy of your order and save it for your records. This can be important should there be an error with what you bought.