Keyboards across the country are smokin’ this week as consumers enter the final week of Christmas shopping. Keep in mind that online shopping still has risks and could be highly inconvenient. Given the time crunch this week make sure you clearly understand how and when your purchase will be delivered. Get a tracking number if possible. Also before you purchase a gift online make sure you check the merchant’s return policy. Will you be charged a re-stocking fee? Do you have to pay for return postage? Will you receive full credit on your payment card? Here are a few other tips on online shopping provided by the Federal Trade Commission
1. Know who youre dealing with. If youve never heard of the seller, check on its location and reputation with the Better Business Bureau or the state attorney generals office.
2. Protect your privacy. Provide personal information only if you know whos collecting it, why, and how its going to be used.
3. Guard your passwords. Use different passwords when youre making a purchase than you use to log on to your computer or network.
4. Pay the safest way. A credit card offers the most consumer protections.
5. Order only on a secure server. Look for an unbroken key or padlock at the bottom of the browser window to ensure your transmission is protected. Buy only from Web vendors that protect your financial information when you order online.
6. Check shipping and handling fees. Dont forget to factor these into the cost of the order, and to choose the delivery option that best meets your needs.
7. Track your purchases. Keep printouts of the web pages with details about the transaction, including return policies if youre not satisfied.
For more information visit www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/holiday/index.html