People use the Internet to shop for appliances, vehicles, furniture, and other big-ticket items. Here’s how you can become a better online shopper:
- Use only secure sites. A secure site will feature a key or lock symbol on its screens or have a URL starting with “https” (“s” for secure). Sites displaying the VeriSign symbol must meet certain security standards.
- Only do business with sellers for which you have complete contact information, including a “snail mail” (postal) address and telephone number.
- Review shipping policies and costs as well as return policies before placing your order.
- Never use a debit card for online purchasing. When the debit card transaction is executed, your cash is immediately transferred from your account to the seller’s account. It may be difficult to persuade a seller to give you a refund when you pay by debit card. Purchases made via credit cards give you more protection because you may be able to ask that a purchase be charged back.
- Print and keep copies of all purchase documents, warranties, credit card authorizations, and shipping notices.
- Use only one particular credit card for online purchases. This practice will serve you well if your account number is stolen. In such a case, you can notify the one credit card issuer of the theft and block the card’s future use without affecting your other accounts.
- Opt out of any list sharing that the seller might conduct with other merchants.
- Do not use your regular e-mail address. Set up a free address at Yahoo!, Hotmail, or other provider and use it solely for online transactions. This will reduce the spam coming into your everyday e-mail account.