Tips to reduce risk when shopping online

online-shopper
Take precautions when shopping online.

Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, has become the biggest online retail shopping day of the year. In 2012, Cyber Monday shoppers racked up $1.46 billion in sales, a new online record, according to comScore. Because of the explosive growth each year in online holiday sales, shoppers need to be extremely diligent in making digital purchases. Scammers with fake websites and emails are lurking out there to separate you from your money. Your identity is also at risk.  Remember that online shopping will never be completely safe. Pay attention to the following cyber shopping tips from the FBI (www.fbi.gov).

  • Beware of unsolicited (spam) emails. Don’t respond, and don’t click on any links within an unsolicited email.
  • Compare the link in the email with the URL (website address) to which you are directed and determine if they match and lead you to a legitimate website.
  • Log directly onto a retailer’s website for the business identified in the email, instead of following the link or calling a phone number in an unsolicited email. If the email appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer or other company you deal with, your statements and correspondence may provide proper contact information.
  • Avoid filling out forms in email messages that ask you to provide or confirm personal or financial information.

The Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.org/) has the following tips to help you stay cyber safe when shopping online this holiday season.

  • Protect your computer by installing the most recent updates for spam filters, anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall security.
  • Shop on trustworthy sites. Check the BBB’s website for the seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction.
  • Take the time to read the retailer’s online privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If one isn’t posted, it may be a red flag that your personal information may be sold or used without your permission.
  • Confirm your online purchase is secure – Before paying, look in the address box for an “s” in the https://   (not just http://) and in the lower right corner of the screen for the “lock”  icon. If in doubt, right click anywhere on the web page and select “properties.”  This will let you see the URL and whether it’s encrypted.
  • Pay for your online purchases with a credit card. Federal law allows you to dispute unauthorized charges.
  • Keep documentation of your online purchase. Save the confirmation page, confirmation number or confirmation email.
  • Don’t wait for credit card statements to come in the mail. Check your credit card statements online regularly. If something seems suspicious, call the credit card company.
  • 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, you can cancel and demand a refund. There is no three-day cancellation right, but consumers do have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s the company’s policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.

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