Be Careful When Shopping Online

June 23, 2014

Over the past month BBB serving Mississippi has had an increase in complaints from consumers concerning their online purchases.  Online shopping has become an easy way for consumers to purchase products they need from the convenience of their home. The internet houses the same large selection as those who choose to shop in stores but without crowds or lines. When shopping online, it is important to know the businesses where the purchase is being made to protect personal information from fraud.

Tips for Online Shopping:             

1. Know the Website.  Before ordering any merchandise, check the URL link to make sure it starts with "https://" (the 's' means it is secure). Also look for a small padlock icon usually located at the corner of the URL bar. These symbols tell shoppers that a website is secure. Make sure to confirm the address and phone number of the online business in case there are any issues contacting them.

2. Read and Compare.  When buying a product, read the whole description including the fine print. It is important to understand the details of the product being purchased so there are no surprises when it's delivered. Check competitor prices to guarantee the lowest price. There are many online resources that allow the comparison of products and offer coupon codes to get a better deal.

3. Check the Return Policy.  Read the return policy to see if the business allows a full refund if the customer is not happy with the product. Review the policy to see who pays for the cost of shipping and handling for the return.

4. Choose the Correct Payment Method.  Always pay with a credit card when shopping online. A purchase with a credit card is protected under the Fair Credit Billing Act. This allows customers to briefly hold payment while a problem is reviewed and resolved. This act also protects customers in the event that credit card information is stolen and used without permission. Make sure to print the receipts and product information of any online purchases to prevent incorrect charges.

5. Keep Personal Information Safe.  Never email any personal information such as credit card and banking numbers, or social security numbers. Be careful to only give financial information through secure websites. Check the privacy policy to see how the business is using the information they have requested.    

In the event of online fraud, if there is a problem with a purchase or business, complaints can be filed with BBB ( to help resolve the issue. The Federal Trade Commission also handles complaints at