DAYTON, OHIO, November 15, 2010 - Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, has officially replaced Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, as the most popular day to shop for the holidays. Shopping online means avoiding crowds, but it also opens you up to attacks from scammers and hackers. To fight these online grinches, your Better Business Bureau recommends 10 tips for staying safe when holiday shopping online.
Every year, more people head online—rather than to the mall—to get their holiday shopping done. Last year, over 96 million Americans shopped online during Cyber Monday, while 79 million Americans shopped at brick-and-mortar retailers on Black Friday, according to the National Retail Federation.
“The convenience and ease of shopping online has replaced the hassle of going to the store for many people, but online shopping has its own set of risks,” said John North, BBB president and CEO. “Taking steps to avoid fraud online will result in a much happier holiday for everyone—except, of course, for scammers and hackers.”
Here are the top 10 online holiday shopping tips to help fight unscrupulous 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 with your BBB to check on sellers’ reputations and records for customer satisfaction. Always look for BBB seals and other widely-recognized trustmarks on retailer Web sites and click on seals to confirm they’re valid.
· Beware of deals sounding 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. You should always trust 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, call the company’s contact number on the Web site where the purchase was made to confirm there really is a problem with the transaction.
· Confirm online purchases are secure. You should always 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, your BBB recommends right-clicking anywhere on the page and select “Properties” to 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 you pay nothing if someone steals your credit card number and uses it. Never wire money and only shop locally on sites like Craigslist.
· Keep documentation of orders. After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or you might receive confirmation by e-mail. Your BBB recommends saving a copy of the Web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.
· Check credit card statements often. Don’t wait for paper statements; your BBB recommends you check your credit card statements for suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or checking 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 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, the company’s policies 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 check out 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.