Friday, December 12, 2008

BBB's “Top 10 Online Shopping Tips”

This year, BBB is offering a “Top 10 Online Shopping Tips” for holiday shoppers to help prevent being taken in by unscrupulous online retailers, scammers and hackers.

1. Protect your computer – A computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a secure firewall.

2. Use trustworthy Web sites – Shoppers should start with BBB to check on the seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction. Always look for a “trustmark” from BBBOnLine and click on that seal to confirm that it’s valid.

3. Protect your personal information – BBB recommends taking the time to read the site’s privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If there isn’t one posted, it should be taken as a red flag that personal information may be sold to others without permission.

4. Trust your gut – Offers on Web sites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true. Consumers should always go with their instincts and not be afraid to pass up a “deal” that might cost them dearly in the end. If you are searching for deals in online classified ad sites like Kijiji.ca and Craigslist.ca, be careful because they do not prescreen advertisements. Choose a local site close to where you live to search for products, and communicate with the seller to arrange for pickup. Never wire money to a stranger.

5. Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses do not send e-mails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. If a consumer receives such an e-mail, BBB recommends picking up the phone and calling the contact number on the Web site where the purchase was made to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.

6. Confirm your online purchase is secure – Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, BBB recommends right-clicking anywhere on the page and select “Properties.” This will let you see the real URL (Web site address) and the dialog box will reveal if the site is not encrypted.

7. Pay with a credit card – It’s best to use a credit card online, because the shopper can dispute the charges with their provider 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 – After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by e-mail – BBB recommends saving a copy of the Web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.

9. Check your credit card statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements; BBB recommends consumers check their credit card statements for suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or by checking statements online regularly.

10. Know your rights – If you have entered into the contract over the internet or phone, it may be considered a Distance Sales Contract. For more information about consumer contracts and your cancellation rights, please contact the Business Practices & Consumer Protection Authority (BPCPA) at 1-888-564-9963 or visit www.bpcpa.ca.

For more advice on staying safe online this holiday season, and to see reports on thousands of online retailers, go to www.bbb.org.

1 comment:

Janice Lois said...

Thank you so much for sharing top 10 online shopping tips.