Online shopping provides convenience and allows us to browse in the comfort of our own home. What consumers don’t often think about is the lack of security or legitimacy some sites may lack, leaving consumers out of money or out of their merchandise. While shopping online provides many advantages it can sometimes leave consumers stranded with less recourse than shopping in regular brick and mortar stores. With the holidays just around the corner, consumers will take to their computers to avoid long lines and BBB of Central New England is urging consumer to make sure your personal and financial information are secure before clicking check out.
Before doing business with any one, online or in person, consumers should do background research to make sure the company is legitimate and ethical. Start by checking out a company’s business review with BBB. BBB also recommends the following tips to consider when shopping online:
· Make sure the site is secure during the check out phase of the purchase. To do this, check the web address and make sure there is an “s” in the https, this ensures the site is secure.
· Scammers will often make replica sites of stores to try to rip off consumers. This is especially popular with sites selling electronics. Check out the spelling and grammar to make sure it seems proper. If there are a lot of mistakes, it may be a red flag.
· Always try to find the stores physical location, not just a PO BOX. Research the company to try to find more information. Contact the company to find out where they are located if they do not list it online. A company should be willing to be transparent about this information.
· Always be cautious of sites that only accept wire transfers for payments. Wire transfers cannot be tracked. Similarly, sites that only ask for payment via a prepaid debit card may be a red flag; these debits are also difficult to track. A credit card is one of the safest ways to make online purchases. Fraudulent charges can be disputed through your credit card company, offering you protection in case a site takes your money but never delivers your order.
· Are the prices too good to be true? This may be a way to lure you in to get personal and financial information. Be knowledgeable about what other stores are selling that or similar products at and see if the compare. If it seems to low it may be safer to keep looking elsewhere.
BBB receives complaints year round from consumers regarding online shopping and most allege to have never received products they ordered or fraudulent charges. Follow these tips to help keep the hassle out of online shopping.