Online shopping: Tips to keep close to your wallet

Online shopping: Tips to keep close to your wallet

Online shopping makes it easy and convenient to search for — and buy — the must-have items on your wish list. Before you buy, check out this video for tips on avoiding hassles, getting the right product at the right price, and protecting your financial information.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet:

*To make sure you’re getting the best deal, compare products. Do research online, check product comparison sites, and read online reviews.

*Confirm that the seller is legit. Look for reviews about their reputation and customer service, and be sure you can contact the seller if you have a dispute.

*Pay by credit card to ensure added protections, and never mail cash or wire money to online sellers.

*Keep records of online transactions until you get the goods.

*Protect Your Information. Don’t email any financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting financial information like your credit card, checking account, or Social Security number. If you begin a transaction and need to give your financial information through an organization’s website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a URL that begins https (the „s” stands for secure). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some fraudulent sites have forged security icons.

*Check the privacy policy. Really. It should let you know what personal information the website operators are collecting, why, and how they’re going to use the information. If you can’t find a privacy policy — or if you can’t understand it – consider taking your business to another site that’s more user-friendly.

How to Report Online Shopping Fraud

If you have problems during a transaction, try to work them out directly with the seller, buyer, or site operator. If that doesn’t work, file a complaint with:

*the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint your state Attorney General, using contact information at naag.org

*your county or state consumer protection agency. Check the blue pages of the phone book under county and state government, or visit consumeraction.gov and look under „Where to File a Complaint”

*the Better Business Bureau

Want to know more? Check out more ways to ensure hassle-free online shopping: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0020-shopping-online

by Mia Smutny
Consumer Education Intern, FTC

Photo: EPA/Rainer Jensen

Tags: FTC, online, shopping

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