Educational Consumer Tips

Shopping Safely from Home

Author: Better Business Bureau

The following comments provide general information for consumers and do not necessarily reflect the practices or record of any particular company.

Shopping from home options include online/e-commerce, telephone orders, mail orders and door-to-door sales. When a solicitor comes to your door, ask for identification. Find out where the seller is located. Never pay a door-to-door solicitor with cash, pay by check and make the check out to the company itself. If you decide to cancel and the purchase price is $25.00 or more, you can cancel the contract under the "Buyer's Right to Cancel" clause. Do not deal with companies whose literature or web site only list a PO Box or no phone number. Check out the company's reputation.

Protect your privacy by not giving personal information such as your Social Security number or personal bank account information. Provide personal information only if you know who's collecting it, why and how it will be used. Know the different options for payments and use the one that offers the best protection. If you pay by credit card, you're protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act.

If at all possible, get a complete description and all terms (including refund or return policy) of the transaction in writing. When buying used items, check to make sure that it meets safety standards. Don't act on impulse or let anyone pressure you into agreeing to a "good today only" deal. Make sure you read and understand any contract.

If the solicitation comes by phone, tell the caller that you will call him back after you have checked the company out. The Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule covers merchandise you order by mail, telephone, computer and fax machine and requires companies to have a reasonable basis for claiming they can ship an order within a certain period of time.

(also see "Unsolicited Mail, Telemarketing and EMail: Where to go to Just Say No" general advice report)

These are some helpful tips from your Better Business Bureau.