“Black Friday” is usually touted as the official start for holiday shopping; however due to the pandemic, it is most likely that online shopping is already in full swing.
It’s no doubt that during these trying times online shopping is safer, easier and more convenient than the usual trip to the mall, but only if you practice the following cautionary guidelines offered by the Federal Trade Commission.
First, make sure your home computer has the latest antivirus software updated. This will help protect you from hackers and identity thieves. (Read more FTC computer safety tips here.)
Once you’re ready to shop, make sure you:
- Take time to compare products. To get the best deal, compare products. Do research online, check product comparison sites, and read online reviews.
- Check out the seller. Confirm that the seller is legit. Look for reviews about their reputation and customer service, and be sure you can contact the seller if you have a dispute.
- Look for coupon codes. Search the store’s name with terms like “coupons,” “discounts,” or “free shipping.”
- Pay by credit card. Paying by credit card gives you added protections. Never mail cash or wire money to online sellers. If the seller asks you to pay this way, it could be a scam.
- Use secure checkout. Before you enter your credit card information online, check that the website address starts with “https.” The “s” stands for secure. If you don’t see the “s,” don’t enter your information.
- Keep records of online transactions until you get the goods, confirm you got what you ordered, and that you’re satisfied you won’t have to return the item.
Read more ways to ensure hassle-free online shopping here. If you spot a fraud while shopping online this holiday season, please report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov — it could help others avoid a scam!