With one-day discounts, ads for big savings, free shipping and many other incentives to shop this holiday season, consumers not only have the potential to save money, but also fall victim to scams. While many will join the multitudes at shopping malls, others will shop online. For this reason, Better Business Bureau (BBB) provides six tips to help shoppers stay safe online this holiday season.
According to comScore.com, online shoppers spent $1.47 billion dollars on Cyber Monday last year, up 17 percent from 2011. While online shopping during Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Green Monday also increased, Free Shipping Day experienced the highest percentage annual growth with 76 percent.
“The excitement of obtaining a good deal can sometimes prevent consumers from taking the necessary steps to protect not only their financial, but also personal information, which could later be used for identity theft,” said Matthew Fehling, BBB President/CEO.
To help consumers fight fraud and scammers as they shop online this holiday season, BBB recommends the following six tips:
1. Research sites before you shop. Start by checking a seller’s reputation and record for consumer satisfaction at www.bbb.org, which includes rating, complaint, and customer review information. Look for the BBB Trust Seal (logo) and other recognized “trustmarks” on retailer websites and click on the seals to confirm their validity.
3. Beware of 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. In some cases, “free” gift offers that require a credit card number may charge consumers later for products or services they did not order.
5. Ho ho hold on before sending money to someone you don’t know. Western Union partnered with BBB discouraging consumers from sending money transfers to individuals they have not met in person. Be cautious when bidding on items online or if the seller only accepts money transfers as payment.
6. Keep good records. BBB recommends saving a copy of the receipt and/or confirmation of the web order, as well as any email communication for future reference. Keep information about the transaction, including the contact information for the website, order confirmation number, shipping status and tracking numbers, and warranty and return policies.
Search smart right from the start by visiting www.bbb.org to find information on most online businesses.
Remember to submit a customer review with BBB after your shopping experience at www.bbb.org/phoenix/Customer-Reviews.