Here are 20 valuable online shopping tips to remember:
1. Shop around.It’s easier to find shops and compare prices online. But remember that the price alone does not guarantee the best deal.
2. Buy only from reliable merchants. Some online shops may offer cheaper products but your best bet when it comes to quality and security are reputable shops that have been providing great customer service for years.
3. Check the website’s security. A secured site should be encrypted with least 128-bit SSL (Secure Socket Layer). The URL must always begin with https:// instead of http://. Look for the padlocked sign at the bottom right corner of your browser.
5. Look for trusted seals of approval.A reliable online merchant should post trusted seals of approval from organizations like the Better Business Bureau, Verisign and TRUSTe on its website.
6. Check out the store’s physical location. The complete physical address of the shop should be posted along with complete contact information.
7. Search for reviews and opinions.A great online store will never fail to receive good reviews from satisfied customers.
8. Check the quality of the website. A real online merchant’s first concern is to provide a high-quality site for their customers to use. If the site has broken links, typos, grammatical errors, suspicious links, or unprofessional look, better buy somewhere else.
9. Call the store’s customer service number. If you’re ready to order, it’s better to get in touch with the store’s representative over the phone. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure that you get clear, straight answers. Find out everything that concerns your purchase.
10. Use a strong password. Most e-commerce sites require their customers to log-in before placing an order. A strong password should be a combination of numbers, letters and symbols and not related to your personal information (ex. Birthdate, surname, maiden name, etc.) Use a different password for each website. Keep all your passwords in a log book and keep it in a safe place.
11. Double check prices. Make sure that you are billed correctly and that the price indicated on your check out is what is reflected in your official receipt.
12. Use a credit card. Credit cards provide a zero liability protection or a $50 fee in case of unauthorized charges. Checks or debit cards don’t give you that protection.
13. Use an online credit card number. Ask your credit card issuer for a different number that you can use online so that it’s different from the actual number on your card.
14. Never send your payment via wire money transfer. Obviously, this mode of payment does not give you any guarantee that you will get your order.
15. Keep track of your purchase. Know all the details about your order (shipping dates, fees, etc). Print and save all records of your online transactions. Check the merchant’s policies on return, refunds, shipping, and warranties. The Federal Law requires all sellers to deliver customer orders within or not more than 30 days.
16. Never send your credit card number, Social Security number or any personal info through e-mail. Don’t respond to e-mails asking you to “verify” your information . Legitimate merchants don’t collect information this way. Don’t click on the links included in the e-mail or open attachments. If you receive an e-mail that seems to be from the merchant you ordered from, the best thing to do is call the shop first and confirm if they sent an e-mail.
17. Check your credit card account.Don’t forget to access your account online or check your billing statement for the period when you made a purchase online.
18. Examine the item immediately once you receive your order. Check for quality, authenticity or any signs of damages. If you have a complaint, call your seller right away.
19. Know your rights. Know your rights as a consumer and don’t be a victim of fraud. If you have any complaint against a merchant, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s official website or call their toll-free # at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) .
20. Check out the Better Business Bureau’s pagefor a more detailed take on online shopping tips.