Safe Online Shopping Tips

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Here are some tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help you shop safely.

  • Know who you're dealing with. If you're shopping by catalog, phone or online, confirm an address and phone number to contact if you have questions or problems. If you've never heard of the seller, check on their location and reputation with the Better Business Bureau or the state attorney general's office.
  • Protect your privacy. Provide personal information only if you know who's collecting it, why, and how it's going to be used.
  • While online, 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.
  • Guard your online passwords. Use different passwords when you're making online purchases. Don't use your login or network password. (See How to Choose a Password for more password help.)
  • Pay the safest way. A credit card offers consumers the greatest protection because your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act.
  • Check out refund and return policies before you buy. Be sure you have a thorough understanding of the terms of your purchase and any restrictions or additional costs.
  • Check delivery dates. When you place an order, the vendor usually tells you when to expect delivery. Federal law requires sellers to ship items as promised or within 30 days after the order date.
  • Keep good records. Print out web pages with details about the transaction, including the seller's name and URL and any warranties, or return and refund policies, in case you're not satisfied.