Online Shopping Safety Tips
Twelve Tips To Protect Yourself From Online Scams
By Harper JohnsonThe Internet can make your shopping faster and easier, but there can also
be pitfalls if you're not careful. Here is some advice from the National
Consumers League, the Better Business Bureau, and the National Cyber
Security Alliance for a safe online shopping experience:
1. Know who you're dealing with. Check out unfamiliar sellers with the
Better Business Bureau
and your state or local consumer protection agency. If you're buying
gifts on an online auction site that provides a feedback forum, check the
track record of the seller before you bid. Don't buy things in response
to unsolicited emails from unknown companies, since these may be
2. Get all the details.
Be sure you have the following information:
- The name and physical address of the seller
- How much the product
or service costs
- What is included for that price
- Whether there are
- The delivery time, if any
- The cancellation and return policy.
3. Look for signs that online purchases are secure.When providing your payment information, the
should change from
https, indicating that the information is being encrypted—turned
into code that can only be read by the seller. Your browser may also signal
that the information is secure with a symbol, such as a broken key that
becomes whole or a padlock that closes.
4. Pay the safest way.It's best to use a credit card, especially when you're purchasing something
that will be delivered later, because under federal law you can dispute the
charges if you don't get what you were promised. You also have dispute rights
if there are unauthorized charges on your credit card, and many card issues
have "zero liability" policies under which you pay nothing if someone steals
your credit card number and uses it.
5. Never enter your personal information in a pop-up screen.When you visit a company's Web site, an unauthorized pop-up screen
created by an identity thief could appear, with blanks for you to provide your
personal information. Legitimate companies don't ask for personal information
via pop-up screens. Install pop-up blocking software to avoid this type of scam.
6. Keep documentation of your order.When you've completed the online order process, there may be a final confirmation
page and/or you might receive confirmation by email. Print that information and
keep it handy in case you need it later
7. Know your rights.Federal law requires orders made by mail, phone, or online to 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 or credit.
8. Be suspicious if someone contacts you unexpectedly and asks for your personal information. Identity thieves send out bogus emails about problems with consumers' accounts
to lure them into providing their personal information. Legitimate companies
don't operate that way.
9. Check your credit card and bank statements carefully.Notify the bank immediately if there are unauthorized charges or debits, if you
were charged more than you should have been, or if there are any other problems.
10. Keep your computer secure for safe shopping and other online activities. Protect your computer with spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware
software, and a firewall, and keep them up to date. Contact Northern Arizona
University's Solution Center to learn more about how to keep your computer
secure: (928) 523-1511.
11. Beware of e-mails offering loans or credit, even if you have credit problems. Con artists take advantage of cash-strapped consumers during the holidays
to offer personal loans or credit cards for a fee upfront. These scammers simply
take the money and run.
12. Contact the seller promptly about any problems with your order. Check the company's Web site for a customer service page, "contact us" link,
email address, or phone number to get your complaint addressed or questions
answered. If you can't resolve the problem, contact the
Better Business Bureau or
your state or local consumer protection agency for help.
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