EDISON - Americans spend billions each year shopping online, and the number just continues to grow.

But before you click on that link to place your order, ask yourself how much you really know about the company you're buying from.

New Jersey's Better Business Bureau gets hundreds of complaints about online retailers each year.

"It's very quick and easy for a scam artist to set up a website that either sells cheaply made goods, or is there really to collect your personal information," says Melissa Companick, president of New Jersey's BBB. And they have no intention of delivering anything to you at all.

To check out whether or not the business you are purchasing from is legitimate, start by finding out how they rate with the Better Business Bureau and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

Also, be sure to check out their return policy. Companick says you should ask yourself, "Can I get my money back? What's the time frame that I have to do that? Does my item have to be in the original packaging?"

You'll also want to read the privacy policy to find out if the retailer will share your personal information with someone else.

To be certain that you're using a secure link, always look for either the padlock symbol or the extra "S" in the web address. That shows communication is encrypted and can't be intercepted easily.

Finally, check the website for contact information, including an address and phone number. It's important that information is available in case something goes wrong with your order. If a company doesn't provide that, you might want to think twice about giving them your business.