Industry Tips

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Shopping Online/Internet Shopping

While the internet is a tool for staying connected to the world around you, it is also a stomping ground for scam artists who seek to take advantage of a trusting shopper. BBB - Greater MD suggests consumers heed these tips before going the distance and conducting a purchase online:

* Know who you're dealing with. Check the company report at www.bbb.org and also check with your state or local consumer protection agency. If you are buying from an online auction site, check the consumer reviews to see the seller's track record. Avoid giving out personal financial information to sellers who contact you via unsolicited email, especially if they are offering loans or credit - even if you do have credit problems. BBB suggests you obtain advice concerning loan searches or financial assistance from the Division of Financial Regulation for credit and financial matters.

* Get all the details. Use 411 or the Yellowpages to verify the name and physical address of the seller. Know the price of the service or product and what is included in that price. Are there shipping charges and what is the delivery time? Check the seller's privacy policy, cancellation and return policies.

* Understand the return policy. Some merchants set a deadline for returns or charge a fee to accept returned merchandise. Also, read the advertising carefully - an unethical merchant can advertise misleadingly, so make sure you read and fully understand what "product" the seller is actually guaranteeing.

* Make sure the site is secure. When it comes time to enter in payment information, the upper right-hand corner of your browser should signal that the information is secure with a padlock symbol. The beginning of the Web site address should change from http to https, indicating that the information is being encrypted.

* Pay safe. It is always your safest bet to use a credit card, especially when you are purchasing something that will be delivered later. According to federal law, you can dispute the charges if you don't get what you were promised. PayPal, used by eBay and other online auction sites, also has contracts with buyers/sellers that the charges can be disputed and in certain cases refunded if the product is not what was advertised. Do not wire money. If you need to send money to people you don't know and trust, you may be putting yourself at risk for fraud.

* Know your rights. Federal law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren't shipped on time, you can cancel and demand a refund. There is no general three-day cancellation right, but you do have the right to reject merchandise if it's defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it's the company's policies that determine if you can cancel the purchase and whether you can get a refund.

* Keep documentation of your order. When the online ordering process is finished there should always be a confirmation page or a receipt page. You may also receive some type of confirmation by email. Print the information and keep it secure just in case you may need it later.

As a matter of policy, BBB does not endorse any product, service or business.

BBB Business Reviews are provided solely to assist you in exercising your own best judgment. Information in this BBB Business Review is believed reliable but not guaranteed as to accuracy.

BBB Business Reviews generally cover a three-year reporting period. BBB Business Reviews are subject to change at any time.

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We offer free reviews on businesses that include background, licensing, consumer experience and other information such as governmental actions that is known to BBB. These reviews are provided for businesses that are BBB accredited and also for businesses that are not BBB accredited.

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BBB Reporting Policy

As a matter of policy, BBB does not endorse any product, service or business.

BBB Business Reviews are provided solely to assist you in exercising your own best judgment. Information in this BBB Business Review is believed reliable but not guaranteed as to accuracy.

BBB Business Reviews generally cover a three-year reporting period. BBB Business Reviews are subject to change at any time.