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BBB offers Cyber Monday 'dos and don'ts'

by jmaloni
Mon, Nov 26th 2012 09:05 am

Great deals to be had, but scammers await as well

Cyber Monday is here. It was ranked as the heaviest online shopping day of the season for the second consecutive year in 2011, with total sales of $1.25 billion. Mobile retail shopping is expected to rise for smartphone owners, particularly with the 20-something crowd. The Better Business Bureau expects even more shoppers will take to the Web this year and reminds consumers it's better to be prepared that surprised by a scammer.

While a record 85 percent of retailers will offer special promotions on Cyber Monday according to National Retail Federation's Shop.org's eHoliday survey, it's best to buy from a retailer you know and trust.

"You can't beat shopping online for convenience, comfort and comparing prices, but people tend to let their guard down and get caught up in the craze of holiday shopping," said Warren Clark, Better Business Bureau president. "Whether it is Black Friday or Cyber Monday it is important to take precautions to ensure that scammers do not ruin your holidays."

BBB recommends the follow "dos and don'ts" for shopping online this holiday season to help fight unscrupulous online retailers, scammers and hackers:

Do:

  • 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 with X-ray vision - This may be a superpower, but any consumer can see through a spoof if they know what to look for. Shoppers need to keep in mind websites can go up today and be gone tomorrow. Consumers can see through these ploys when they keep two windows open at all times - one to hunt for deals and the other to shop for trust. Keep bbb.org open to you check out the seller's BBB rating, online reputation and record for customer satisfaction. If you can't find trustworthy information, move on.

  • Protect your personal information - Scammers are waiting for consumers to enter personal information into their phony sites and run off with it. Shopping for trust is paramount and BBB also 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, take that as a red flag that personal information may be sold to others without permission.

  • 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 (website address) and the dialog box will reveal if the site is not encrypted.

  • Pay with a credit card - It's best to use a credit card, because under federal law, you can dispute the charges if you don't receive the item. One also has dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on one's credit card. Many card issuers have "zero liability" policies under which the cardholder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it. If you are going to shop on classifieds websites such as Craigslist, never wire money and only buy locally where you can see the item before you hand over your money.

  • Know your rights - Federal law requires that 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, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. There is no general three-day cancellation right, but consumers do have the right to reject merchandise if it's defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it's the company's policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.

Don't:

  • Fall for deals that sound too good to be true - Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails can often sound too good to be true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Consumers should always go with their instincts and not be afraid to pass up a "deal" that might cost them in the end.

  • Give into phishing scams - Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the buyer into revealing financial information. If a consumer receives such an email, BBB recommends picking up the phone and calling the contact number on the website where the purchase was made to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.

  • Lose track of your documents - After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by email. BBB recommends saving a copy of the webpage and any emails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.

  • Wait for paper statements - check your credit card statements often - BBB recommends consumers check their credit card statements for suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or by looking at statements online each week or even more during this busing shopping season.

About BBB

For 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. BBB has business reviews on more than 4 million companies and charity reviews on 11,000 charities, all available for free. More than 100 million consumers rely on "BBB Business Reviews" and "BBB Wise Giving Reports" annually to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visit bbb.org for more information.

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