There’s another bid day coming up on the retail calendar. Cyber Monday has become just as popular if not even more popular than Black Friday over the years. But there are a few things online shoppers should know before filling up their virtual shopping cart.
The internet is accessible almost anywhere, making Monday’s retail holiday a simple way to shop in the comfort of your own home or office.
"I can sit there at the business and shop online," said Donna McClintock who plans to take advantage of the online deals.
"We have nine grandchildren so you know, boys toys, girls toys from the age of two to 15," said McClintock.
The National Retail Federation says eight in ten retailers will offer special Cyber Monday deals. Before clicking purchase, it’s important to know the risks of online shopping. Some who plan to participate in Monday’s deals offer their own advice.
"Make sure those passwords aren’t too simple and make sure those passwords aren’t reused in a lot of things like your emails and stuff," said one shopper.
"I just try to use as many websites as I can that I know and trust and make sure that they have something to secure the transaction," offered another.
"Go out and buy a prepaid card for my shopping experience online," said McClintock.
Other safety tips include:
Beware of deals that sound too good to be true, confirm that your online purchase is secure, check your bank activity often, and protect your computer with the most up to date firewalls and spam filters.
Before you start your deal hunt online, the Better Business Bureau offers tips about buying online:
1. 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.
2. Shop on trustworthy websites – Shoppers should start at www.bbb.org to check on the seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction. It’s a good idea to look for the BBB logo and other widely-recognized seals on retailer websites, but make sure they are real (some rogue sites plagiarize seals to look legitimate).
4. Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – Offers on websites and in unsolicited e-mails 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 dearly in the end.
5. Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses do not send e-mails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. If a consumer receives such an e-mail, 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.
6. 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.
7. 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. Your also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on your credit card, and many card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it. If you are going to shop on classifieds web sites like Craigslist, never wire money and only buy locally where you can see the item before you hand over your money.
8. Keep documentation of your order - After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by e-mail – BBB recommends saving a copy of the web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.
9. Check your credit card statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements; BBB recommends consumers check their credit card statements for suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or by looking at statements online regularly.
10. 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.
Visit BBB.org for more information.