The Internet can make shopping easier, but it can also lead to credit card fraud for the unwary. The American Automobile Association (www.aaa.com) wants your internet shopping to be safer this holiday season, when Americans are expected to spend $2.3 billion online.
Shopping online can be safe if consumers are cautious and follow a few basic steps to safeguard their security, credit and purchases. The AAA offers these suggestions:
–Use merchants you are familiar with. Web sites can be located through a search engine, on TV, through a catalog or by calling the local store.
–Read the guarantees, warranties, return policies and delivery policies on the merchants home page. Find out if you can return an item for a refund or credit.
–Read the merchants privacy statement. It should tell you how the personal information you provide will be used and whether or not it could be sold to other companies. If you dont like what you see, shop elsewhere.
–Look for Web site security information. Some Web sites may include information on their encryption capabilities on the home page (40-bit encryption is standard and 128-bit is state-of-the-art).
–Check with your credit card issuer to find out whether they have a purchase protection policy that includes online purchases. Some cards protect the buyer if an item is lost, stolen or damaged in delivery.
–Keep records of online transactions. Print out the online confirmation of your order and save it just as you would save a receipt from a store.
–Finally, if you are concerned about an online merchant, contact the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) or other consumer agency for more information.
The bottom line, of course, is just be an informed consumer.