Looking to cross some items off your Christmas shopping list this Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Online shopping is a convenient option for consumers looking to avoid crowded malls this holiday season, but Better Business Bureau warns there are cyber Grinches out there looking to take advantage of gift-givers.
Shopping online offers certain benefits that you would not find shopping in a store. For example, the Internet is always open - seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Shopping on the Internet also can be as safe as shopping in a store. The following tips will assist you in making your online shopping experience a safe one.
- Start your search with trust. Go to bbb.org to look for BBB Business Reviews of your favorite online retailers.
- Look for “https”. On the payment page, look for “https” at the beginning of the address (the “s” stands for “secure”).
- Contact the business directly. Verify payment/shipping/refund policies as well as their location by contacting the business directly before making your purchase.
- Use a credit card. Never wire money to people or businesses you don’t know. Instead pay with a credit card for added fraud protection. You can dispute charges if there are any unauthorized charges on the card, and many card issuers have zero-liability policies if someone steals and uses your card number. Check your credit card statement regularly for unauthorized charges.
- Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails may offer free or very low prices on hard-to-find items. There may be hidden costs or your purchase may sign you up for a monthly charge. Look for and read the fine print.
- Ask how your personal information will be used. Before handing over your personal and financial information, be sure you understand exactly how and where it will be used. (i.e. will it be shared with third parties?)
- Beware of phishing. Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order, account or a package to lure the buyer into revealing financial information. When in doubt, contact the business directly to confirm the issue.
- Keep documentation of your order. Save a copy of the confirmation page of an order or emails confirming the order until you receive the item and are satisfied.
- Protect your computer. Install a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Check for and install the latest updates and run virus scans regularly.
For more tips you can trust, visit bbb.org.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local,independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, which was founded in 1954 and garners more than one million instances of service annually.
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