On Cyber Monday—the year's busiest day of online shopping—Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington offers 10 online shopping tips to help consumers avoid scammers, hackers, and shady online retailers:
- Beware of unbelievable deals. Websites and unsolicited e-mails often promote offers that seem too good to be true, such as low prices on hard-to-get items. Trust instincts and steer clear of unrealistic promises.
- Shop on trustworthy websites. Check BBB Reliability Reports at www.bbb.org.
- Defend computers. Install a secure firewall, updates for spam filters, and anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
- Be wary of phishing. Scammers send e-mails claiming problems with orders or accounts to lure the "buyer" into revealing financial information. Instead, call the contact number on the business' official website to confirm if there is a problem with the transaction.
- Confirm security. Before paying, look for an "s" in "https://" in the address box. If there are doubts, right-click on the webpage and select "Properties," which will reveal the real URL and the site's encryption code.
- Pay by credit card. Under federal law, shoppers can dispute charges if ordered items are not delivered. Shoppers also have dispute rights on unauthorized credit card charges; many card issuers have "zero liability" policies under which the cardholder pays nothing if the credit card number is stolen. On classified ad and auction sites, BBB advises shopping locally and never wiring money.
- Keep documentation. After completing the online order process, there should be a final confirmation page or e-mail; save or print this for a record of purchase.
- Check credit card statements. Don't wait for paper statements; check credit card statements for suspicious activity.
- Know your rights. Federal law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised—or if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If goods aren't shipped on time, shoppers can cancel and demand refunds. There is no general three-day cancellation right, but consumers can reject merchandise if it's defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, the company's policies determine if shoppers can cancel and receive refunds.
Get more holiday advice at www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-holiday.