It seems that all anyone talked about last week was the great deals they got shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Sometimes it feels like the holiday season is really just a shopping season. At least that's gotten easier in this age of online shopping. You can get all of your gifts and never leave the house.

According to recent statistics, about 35 percent of regular internet shoppers are over the age of 55. Are you one of them? Would you like to be one of them?

Do you have to become one of them?

More and more grandparents and great grandparents are finding that the wish lists for younger members of the family don’t include actual items. Instead, the wish list is a bunch of URL addresses with links to the item.

It might be easy to fall into the “I’ll just send a check” category. But, if you’re ready to venture into the world of online shopping, there are a few things you should know.

“Be a savvy shopper,” said Cynthia Albert, vice president of operations for the New Orleans Better Business Bureau. “Check out everything. Read the fine print before you hit submit. And check the refund policy.”

Unless the item is damaged or is not as represented online, the company does not have to take it back, she said.

The BBB also offers the following helpful hints:

1. Shop on the sites of retailers you know. The best deals might be from an unknown store but the quality may not meet expectations. And make sure you are on the site of the actual retailer and not a copycat site.

2. Look for the padlock symbol to the left of the URL address. Secure sites have a feature called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). These sites have an address that starts with HTTPS://

3. Use a credit card. In case of a bad transaction, your credit card will offer protections that debit or prepaid cards don’t provide.

4. Keep the receipt. Save the email confirmation or print out the confirmation page.

5. Make sure your computer is protected. Are your firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software up-to-date?

For first timers, it’s best to shop from your desktop computer. Using a mobile device can be a little trickier, and the smaller screen on your phone can be frustrating for those with less-than-perfect eyesight.

Also, don’t shop from a mobile device while using a public Wi-Fi connection. That’s an easy way for a thief to get your information.

For more tips on being a savvy online shopper, contact the BBB at (504) 522-9363 or go to

Golden Age columnist Julie Agan can be reached at or calling (985) 892-0377.