CNET : Shopper
Q. How do I know that a store is using a secure server when ordering online?
A. Once you reach the store's check-out page, look for an unbroken key or padlock at the bottom of the browser window to ensure your transmission is protected. All stores participating in CNET's Certified Store program are expected to use a secure server.

Q. When purchasing products, is it safe to use the same password that I use to sign on to my computer?
A. It is best to use different passwords when you are making a purchase than the ones you use to log on to your computer or network.

Q. What form of payment should I use when shopping online?
A. Although stores offer various forms of payment methods, the Federal Trade Commission suggests that a credit card offers the most consumer protection.

Q. Can I get my money back from a CNET Certified Store that I have purchased products from?
A. All CNET stores must publish their return policy on their sites. Most stores list this information on their site's help, order information, or FAQ section. Please read it carefully so that you are aware of the store's return policy prior to making your purchase.

Q. How can I be sure this store is reputable and honest?
A. All CNET stores are Certified stores and are required to meet the CNET Certified Store rating program's standards. You can review a store's rating by going to its Store Profile page on CNET. You may also check to see if a store is an active member with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) here.

Q. Since I am shopping online, do I need to keep a copy of my purchase information?
A. Keeping a printout of the Web page with details about your transaction is a good idea, as you may need it to track your purchase or if you are returning an item to a store.

Q. What else can I do to protect myself while shopping online?
A. Check your order for correct tax, shipping fees and discounts before submitting it to a store. Also, be sure that the item description and the shipping information matches the store's site, along with the information listed on its Store Profile page on CNET. You may want to consider calling the store directly to confirm all of the details of your order, including the actual expected delivery time.

If you find a discrepancy in the information listed on the store's site compared to the way it is listed on CNET, notify us through CNET Customer Help, and send us a note so that we may contact the store to have it corrected.

Q. Are there any other places I can go to check out additional safety tips for shopping online?

A. Check out the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for information about store complaints, along with the Federal Trade Commission, which offers additional consumer protection information.

Q. How can I protect my personal information and computer from viruses?

A. If a virus hits, you can lose important personal information or software that's stored on your computer's hard drive, as well as valuable time trying to make repairs. And your computer could be used without your knowledge to attack other computers, including those that protect our national security. You can purchase antivirus software from local shops or online stores. Look for antivirus software that recognizes current viruses, as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically.

Browse antivirus products on or visit our recommended security and protection downloads on CNET