Volume 3 Number 50
December 11, 2006
HOLIDAY SHOPPING ONLINE
Are you shopping online for the holidays? U.S.
online retail sales this holiday season will
increase 23% over last year to reach $27
billion, according to Forrester Research. Almost
one-fifth of the consumers surveyed say that the
Internet will be the place where they shop the
most during the holidays.Consumers
of all ages find shopping for holiday gifts
online to be convenient, fast and easy.
Shopping on line may be a convenience, but the
consumer needs to protect and safeguard personal
information while online. The following
shopping tips from the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) can help you be a well-informed online
Know with whom you are dealing, as anyone can set up
Confirm the online sellerís physical
address and phone number. If you get an
email or pop-up message from the seller
asking for financial information, do not
reply or click on the link in the message.
Legitimate companies do not ask for
information via emails or pop-ups.
Read between the lines.
Read the sellerís description of the product
closely, especially the fine print. Words
like refurbished, vintage or close-out may
indicate that the product is less than
perfect; brand-name items with too-good
to-be-true prices could be counterfeit.
Calculate the costs. Check out websites that compare prices, then
judge by factoring shipping and handling
into the total cost of the order. Then
consider these costs in relation to your
budget and compare with the cost of shopping
Pay by credit card.
DO NOT SEND CASH under any circumstance.
If you pay by credit card online, the Fair
Trade Act may protect your transaction.
Under this law, you have the right to
dispute charges under certain circumstances.
In the event that your credit card is used
without your knowledge or permission, you
generally are liable for no more that $50.00
in charges per card. Many companies do not
hold consumers responsible for any
unauthorized charges made online, and some
card issuers may provide additional
warranty, return and/or purchase protection
Check out the terms of the deal, like refund polices and
delivery dates. Can you return it for a full refund? Who pays for S&H or
restocking fees? What is the delivery
date? The law requires sellers to ship
items as promised or within 30 days after
the order date if no specific date is
promised. Can the recipient return your
gift? If so, ask that a receipt be included
in the package.
Keep a paper trail. Print and save records of your online
transactions, including the product
description and price, the online receipt,
and copies of any emails you exchange with
the seller. Read your credit card statement
when received for unauthorized charges.
Do not send your financial information by email.
Email is not a secure method for
transmitting financial information like
credit card, checking account, or Social
Security numbers. Make sure the sellerís
website is secure, such as a URL that begins
with https (the ĎsĒ stands for secure).
Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof;
some fraudulent sites have forged security
Use anti-virus software and a firewall and update them
This is necessary for anyone transmitting
personal information and purchasing online
as an active browser and email user.
Anti-virus software protects your computer
from viruses, and possible spam emails sent
through your account. A firewall will help
keep hackers from using your computer. If
you do not have these protective programs,
purchase and install them or seek
professional assistance to do so.
It should let you know what personal
information the website operators are
collecting and how they are going to use it.
you canít understand it, consider taking
your business to another site that is more