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Educational Consumer Tips

Internet Shopping

Author: Better Business Bureau

One of the best ways you can protect yourself from fraud and other online criminal activity is to know who you are doing business with. While many websites and email addresses are designed to look professional and secure, there are often telltale signs that can help you identify ones you want to avoid. The Better Business Bureau has information about online fraud. For more information, see (

Here are some general tips about what to look for and what to avoid: Don’t respond to pressure.  The Internet has no opening or closing time, so shop at your leisure and only buy when you are sure the company is legitimate, and safe.  Don’t provide personal or payment information when requested through email, unless you know exactly who you are doing business with and where it is located. Make sure the company's street address and phone number are listed on the website, and check to make sure it is a legitimate address or physical storefront.  Check the website's URL information and ensure the site has a posted privacy policy. Check refund and return policies before you buy.  Protect your personal information.  Google the company name and phone number to see what others may be saying about their experience.  Get the full name of the owner of the company.  Only provide credit card information on a secured site. Look for the https:// in the URL. Check the URL as you go to each new page. The beginning of the URL should stay the same.

Additional BBB tips to ensure safely doing business:  Don’t rely on a professional looking Web site as proof of a company’s quality or good reputation.  Investigate a company or seller before you buy.  Find out where a company is physically located to help avoid overseas. offshore or other scams.  Never give out your bank account number, credit card number, or personal information unless you’re certain a company is legitimate.  Pay for your purchases by credit card which can be protected under the Fair Credit Billing Act.  Start with a small, inexpensive purchase to see how the company handles your order. Find out about a company’s return and refund policies before you purchase.  Always use a secure Internet browser that “encrypts” or scrambles your personal or financial information.