Shopping online has become a normal routine for many Americans. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the estimated e-commerce sales for the first quarter of 2017 was $105.7 billion, a 4 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2016. While an increasing number of consumers are turning to the internet to shop, all too often consumers find what they received is not what they ordered.
In 2016, the Better Business Bureau received more than 13,000 complaints against online retailers from consumers. The BBB urges consumers to shop smart by taking their time to understand all of the retailer’s policies before clicking the checkout button.
It’s because shopping online is quick and convenient that an increasing number of consumers are swindled by dishonest merchants. That’s why it’s important to make sure you only shop on secure, legitimate websites.
Shoppers can be savvy following these tips:
- Know the advertiser. Check out the retailer’s business profile at bbb.org before shopping. Some of the best deals are only available online, but make sure you are shopping with a company that has a good track record.
- Check a site’s security settings. If the site is secure, its URL (web address) should start with https:// and include a lock icon on the purchase or shopping cart page.
- Shop savvy. When shopping online, take your time and read the fine print before submitting your order. Look for a return policy; although many online orders can be returned for a full refund, some may have restocking fees. Know before you buy.
- Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections and allows you to dispute any unauthorized charges. Debit cards, prepaid cards or gift cards don’t have the same protections as a credit card.
- Keep documentation of your order. Save a copy of the confirmation page or email confirmation until you receive the item and are satisfied.
- Keep a clean machine. Being on unfamiliar sites can lead to malware or viruses being downloaded to your computer. Make sure you have the most up-to-date firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Check for and install the latest updates and run virus scans regularly on your computer, tablet and smartphone.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: 903-581-8373 or report it via BBB ScamTracker.