With the number of shopping days until Christmas quickly dwindling, you may be doing some last minute online shopping. Here are some tips from the Better Business Bureau that will help protect your personal information during the busiest shopping time of the year. And it’s not a bad idea to incorporate these tips into your everyday online shopping habits. Wishing you safe shopping and a Merry Christmas!
Here are tips for the time you have left to get your shopping done:
- Look for the lock – When shopping online or anytime you’re entering personal information on the web, make sure the website is security enabled. Look for the lock symbol and that the URL starts with https://. The “s” stands for secure.
- Use credit cards, not cash or debit – Credit cards offer shoppers the most consumer protection, as long as you can keep credit card debt in check. However, do NOT go into debt you cannot repay. Make a budget and stick to it.
- Check your account statements – Keep a close eye on your statements; the sooner you recognize an unauthorized purchase, the easier it is to recover lost funds.
- Ask about return policies – Stores and website policies vastly differ. Some stores have a time limit on returns/exchanges, websites may charge you additional shipping and handling fees for unwanted items and some items may be nonreturnable.
- Keep your receipts – For big ticket items, keep your receipts for warranty purposes. Receipts should be kept in case of return/exchange needs and to check against your account statements to verify you haven’t been overcharged (especially if a tip is involved).
- Check out businesses on bbb.org – If buying from a company you’re unfamiliar with or shopping from a new website, check a company’s record on bbb.org. Basic company information will be listed, plus any complaints that have been filed against the business in the past three years.
- Give wisely – Ask questions about how your donations will be used and verify the legitimacy of a charity or organization on give.org.
- Know contact information – Before handing over money or personal information to a business, charity, website or individual, always verify contact information. Request formal name, phone number and physical address.
- Use secure Internet connections – While on-the-go, using WiFi at your favorite coffee shops and restaurants is a real data-saver. But if you’re shopping online, checking your accounts or entering personal information, you’re safer using a password-protected WiFi signal or a cell signal.
If you spot any scams this holiday season, help warn others by reporting the cons on BBB Scam Tracker.