Tips for Cyber Monday
The Better Business Bureau of Metro NY notes that Cyber Monday—the Monday after Thanksgiving—has officially replaced Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving—as the most popular day to shop for the holidays. Last year, 96.5 million Americans shopped online during Cyber Monday while 79 million Americans shopped at brick-and-mortar retailers on Black Friday, according to the National Retail Federation.
Shopping online means avoiding the crowds, but it also opens the buyer up to attacks from scammers and hackers. In order to fight these online grinches, BBB of Metropolitan New York has 10 tips for staying safe when holiday shopping online.
“Online shopping is convenient and many prefer it to going to the store, but online shopping has its own set of risks,” said Claire Rosenzweig, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Metro NY. “Be on your guard and watch out for fraud online.”
Following are the “Top 10 Online Shopping Tips” for holiday shoppers to help fight unscrupulous online retailers, scammers and hackers:
1. Protect your computer – A computer should always have a secure firewall and the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
2. Shop on trustworthy websites – Shoppers should start with BBB to check on the seller’s reputation and its record for customer satisfaction. Always look for the BBB seal and other widely-recognized “trustmarks” on retailer websites and click on the seals to confirm that they are valid.
4. Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – Offers on websites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Consumers should always let common sense rule over their love of a good deal. Do not be afraid to pass up a “deal” that might cost you dearly in the end.
5. Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses do not send e-mails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. Never click on links in such emails. Go to the site yourself, typing the business’s real URL into your browser.
6. Confirm your online purchase is secure – Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in “https://” and in the lower-right corner for the lock symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, BBB recommends right-clicking anywhere on the page and select “Properties.” This will let you see the real URL (website address) and the dialog box will reveal if the site is not encrypted.
7. Pay with a credit card – It’s best to use a credit card, because under federal law, the shopper can dispute the charges if he or she doesn’t receive the item. Shoppers also have the right to dispute charges on their credit card they believe are unauthorized. Many card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it. Never wire money and only shop locally on sites like Craigslist.
8. Keep documentation of your order - After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page, or the shopper might receive confirmation by e-mail – BBB recommends saving a copy of the Web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.
9. Check your credit card statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements; BBB recommends consumers check their credit card statements for suspicious activity by either calling their credit card companies or by checking statements online regularly.
10. 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, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. There is no general three-day cancellation right, but consumers do have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s the company’s policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.
For more advice on staying safe online this holiday season, and to see reports on thousands of online retailers, go to www.newyork.bbb.org/consumer-tips-holiday/.