Cyber-Monday: Great Deals to Be Had, But BBB Warns Watch Out for Scams
DAYTON, OHIO, November 23, 2011 - Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, has officially replaced Black Friday as the most popular day to shop for the holidays. Shopping online means avoiding the crowds, but it also opens buyers up to attacks from scammers and hackers.
Every year, more people head online rather than to the mall to get their holiday shopping done. According to a preliminary shopping survey conducted for the National Retail Federation by BIGresearch, up to 152 million people plan to shop Black Friday weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), higher than the 138 million people who planned to do so last year. According to the survey, 74 million people say they’ll definitely hit the stores and another 77 million are waiting to see if the bargains are worth braving the cold and crowds.
“You can’t beat shopping online for convenience, comfort and comparing prices,” said John North, BBB president and CEO. “But, don’t let your guard down. Take the necessary precautions to avoid fraudulent Web sites, scammers and other Grinches who would just love to ruin your holidays.”
Your BBB recommends the following top 10 tips for shopping online this holiday season to help fight unscrupulous online retailers, scammers and hackers:
· 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.
· Shop on trustworthy Web sites – Start by visiting www.bbb.org or calling (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301 to check on sellers’ reputations and records for customer satisfaction. It’s a good idea to look for your BBB’s logos and other widely-recognized seals on retailer Web sites, but make sure they’re real (some rogue sites plagiarize seals to look legitimate).
· Beware of deals that sound too-good-to-be-true – Offers on Web sites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too-good-to-be-true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Always go with your instincts and don’t be afraid to pass up a deal that might cost you dearly in the end.
· Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses don’t send e-mails claiming problems with orders or accounts to lure you into revealing financial information. If you receive such an e-mail, contact the company using a phone number on the Web site where the purchase was made to confirm there really is a problem with the transaction.
· Confirm your online purchase is secure – Look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and the lower-right corner for the lock symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, right-click 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 isn’t encrypted.
· Pay with a credit card – It’s best to use a credit card, because under federal law, you can dispute charges if you don’t receive the item. You also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on your credit card and many card issuers have zero liability policies under which the cardholders pay nothing if credit card numbers are stolen and used. If you’re going to shop on classifieds Web sites, like Craigslist, never wire money and only buy locally where you can see items before you hand over your money.
· Keep documentation of your order - After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or e-mail. Your BBB recommends saving a copy of the Web page and any e-mails for future reference and record of the purchase.
· Check your credit card statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements; your BBB recommends checking your credit card statements for suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or looking at statements online regularly.
· Know your rights – Federal law requires 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 general three-day cancellation right, but you have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s the company’s policies that determine if you can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.
Contact your BBB for more advice on staying safe online this holiday season and to see reports on thousands of online retailers. Visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.
About Your BBB Serving Dayton and the Miami Valley
Your BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses earning BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. Your BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 126 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring nearly 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Your BBB serving Dayton and the Miami Valley serves Montgomery, Greene, Clark, Darke, Miami, Preble, Shelby and northern Warren counties. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about your BBB.