Tyler Better Business Bureau
It's estimated that half of all American adults shopped for bargains on the Monday after Thanksgiving 2011, spending approximately $1.2 billion.
The convenience and ease of shopping online has replaced the hassle of going to the store for many people. Shopping online means avoiding the crowds, but it also opens the buyer up to attacks from scammers and hackers.
BBB offers the “Top 10 Online Shopping Tips” to help fight unscrupulous online retailers, scammers and hackers:
2. Shop on trustworthy websites — Start with BBB to check on the seller's reputation and record for customer satisfaction. Always look for the BBB seal and other widely-recognized “trustmarks” on retailer websites and click on the seals to confirm that they are valid.
4. Beware of deals that sound too good to be true — Offers on websites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items.
5. Beware of phishing — Remember, legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information.
6. Confirm your online purchase is secure — Look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. Never shop at a Wi-Fi hotspot.
7. Pay with a credit card — It's best to use a credit card, because the shopper can dispute the charges if he or she doesn't receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card, and many card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.
8. Keep documentation of your order — BBB recommends saving a copy of the web page and any confirmation emails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.
9. Check your credit card statements often — Don't wait for paper statements; check your credit card statements for suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or by checking statements online regularly.
10. 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 the goods aren't shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund.
For more advice on staying safe online this holiday season, and to see reports on thousands of online retailers, go to www.bbb.org. To report a fraud or scam, call the BBB Hotline at 903-581-8373.