After Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, you might think consumers will be ready for a break – but not so fast! For the last several years, Cyber Monday – the Monday after Black Friday – has grown increasingly popular among consumers looking to take advantage of online clearance sales that retailers offer after Black Friday. The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) suggests people looking to take advantage of Cyber Monday offers on November 26 – or those who do most of their holiday shopping online – follow these simple steps to help ensure they get the best deals and avoid becoming a victim of fraud:
- Protect your computer – A computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.
- Stick to trustworthy websites – Check on the seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction at bbb.org. Look for the BBB seal and other widely-recognized “trust marks” on retailer websites. Always remember to click on the seals to confirm that they are valid.
- Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails can often sound too good to be true – especially ones offering extremely low prices. When visiting a website, look for misspellings and grammatical errors, as these are signs the site might be fraudulent. Trust your instincts. Don’t be afraid to pass up “deals” that might cost you money and lead to headaches.
- Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. If a consumer receives such an email, the BBB recommends picking up the phone and calling the retailer you dealt with or your credit card provider to confirm there really is a problem with the transaction.
Always be extremely protective of your personal and financial information.
- Confirm your online purchase is secure – Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying.
- Pay with a credit card – It’s best to use a credit card, because under federal law, the shopper can dispute the charge if he or she doesn’t receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card.
- Keep documentation of your order – After completing the online order process, there should be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by email. Save a copy of that as well as any emails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.
- Check your credit card statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements; the BBB recommends consumers check their credit card statements for suspicious activity by checking statements online regularly or by calling their credit card companies if fraud is suspected.
- Know your rights – Federal law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren’t shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. There is no general three-day cancellation right, but consumers do have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s the company’s policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.
For more advice on staying safe online this holiday season, visit www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-holiday/.