Why would I want to shop on line, may be your question for me. There are many reasons:

1. If you do it carefully, the cost to ship something to you can be less than the cost of gas. Even if the cost is close, shopping online has the added bonus of avoiding traffic, less mileage on your vehicle, and you can do it in your pj's.

2. You can do it 24/7, don't worry about a website being closed on Sunday. You can shop before you hit the commuter traffic in the morning, or shop at midnight if you can't sleep, whenever is convenient for you.

3. You can price compare from your seat in lieu of driving all over town. If the first site you visited has the lowest price, you can get back there instantly instead of taking the time to drive or walk back.

4. You can find difficult to find items, suddenly the globe is at your fingertips, you are no longer captive to stores within driving distance.

"Ok!" you say, "You have me sold! But what about my friend who got ripped off? How do I avoid internet scams?" Here's how to shop on-line and not get had:

1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A common scam on Ebay (which IS a reputable site) Is for a seller to rack up a high rating selling numerous small, inexpensive items – then switch to something expensive, for example computers. 100 are available for $100 each! It sounds too good to be true, because it is. The action ends, with the seller having sold all one hundred computers, but nothing gets delivered. By the time customers start complaining to Paypal, the Ebay seller is no longer a registered user.
a. So do your due diligence. Check out the feedback, as well as the items previously sold, the number of years the seller has been in business
b. And stick to reputable sites. It doesn't take much these days to throw up a slick looking website. The people behind the site, however, might be a couple kids in a garage. Bizrate.com is a good site for price comparison. It will rate the sites for you, based on customer feedback.

2. Shop with a credit card, not a debit card. Better yet, use Paypal, as an added line of defense to your privacy. For what it's worth, if your information gets stolen or compromised, with a credit card – it's only CREDIT in dispute, not actual dollars being removed from your account as with a debit card.

3. If you must pay with a check, don't send a personal check, use a money order. A postal money order may cost a few cents more than a money order from the local cigarette store, but it is easy enough to trace and have replaced if it's lost in the mail. You can fill out a form at any US post office if you've kept your receipt. As a young woman I bought a money order from my local bank, which was destroyed in the mail, and the teller in the bank claimed unless I bought a "bond" they wouldn't replace it for me. Probably incorrect information, nonetheless my point is, Postal Workers know how to replace a money order quickly and easily, sales clerks at a retail store or bank may not be familiar with the procedure.

4. Buy what you know, not obscure products. People who get "ripped off" buying off the internet often do it to themselves by not reading the fine print, or looking at all the pictures carefully enough. I once saw for sale and enormous book I wanted, with free shipping! On closer inspection I realized they weren't going to mail me the book, or even a copy burned onto a disc, but in fact, wanted to e-mail me the whole content. As, I don't really care to read fiction on my laptop – I didn't buy it.

Now you have the basics, go have some fun!