Doing your shopping online has a lot of perks: no fighting for parking, or shuffling through crowds, and no long lines! But it also has its risks. Here are eight tips for doing your shopping online throughout the holidays.
Use a credit card.
This is one of the easiest things you can do to protect your purchase while shopping online. Your credit card offers additional protection that your debit card typically won’t. If you’re making a big purchase, use your credit card so that you can dispute the charge with your financial institution in case something goes wrong (like if the business delivers the wrong product, or never delivers at all).
Be wary of buying on social media.
We’re not saying you can’t, but use extreme caution. Consider things like: how responsive the business is to your calls or emails, if they have any reviews anywhere else online (other than social media), and the method of payment. Never wire transfer money to someone you don’t know, and if they ask you to pay with a gift card, run for the hills!
Know how to spot a fake website.
It’s all too easy for internet criminals to set up shop during the holiday season. They make a fancy website, advertise big-box items at a heavily discounted price, take a few payments and are never heard from again. Here are a few red flags that a website might be a scam:
Spelling or grammatical errors.
Distorted or pixelated images.
The website begins with ‘http’ instead of ‘https’ - if there’s no ‘S’ it’s not secure!
Learn more about how to spot a scam business online.
Order in advance for customized, or handmade products.
If you’re ordering something that’s customized, or hand-made for a friend or loved one, order in advance to be sure it’s here in time for the holidays. And to avoid those crazy rush fees!
Consider having your orders delivered to your office, or pick them up.
Doing your shopping online can be a great convenience. However, it also means expensive presents might be left at your doorstep while you’re at work - an easy target for local thieves. Consider having your online orders delivered to your office, or pick them up from your local UPS, FedEx, or Post Office.
Shop with confidence, and research before you buy.
Having a plan is the key to your shopping success during the holidays. Find out which websites have the best sales ahead of time. Do a price comparison, and research both the product and the business itself. Visit bbb.org to check the company’s rating and reviews.
Read the fine print.
A lot of sales during the holidays have strict exclusions, limits, or no-return policies. Be sure to read the fine print before you buy, and call the company if you have questions.
Keep track of receipts.
Even when buying online, it’s important to keep your receipts, especially if they include shipping information. If you’re shopping for a loved one, be sure to ask for a gift receipt, and keep the original. Be sure to read those refund and exchange policies!