BBB offers safety tips on shopping on the Internet

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By The Staff

With more shoppers expected to hit the Internet this season, scammers will take advantage of consumers who are looking for bargains.

Scammers will set up shop online, using low prices to entice shoppers, but ultimately not delivering the goods.

BBB is offering 10 tips for gift givers to help them stay safe and secure when shopping online this holiday season.

1.  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.

2.  Use trustworthy Web sites – Shoppers should start with BBB to check on the seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction. Always look for a “trustmark” from BBBOnLine and click on that seal to confirm that it’s valid.

3.   Protect your personal information – Take time to read the site’s privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used.

If there isn’t one posted, it should be taken as a red flag that personal information may be sold to others without permission.

4.  Trust your gut – Offers on Web sites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true.

Consumers should always go with their instincts.

5.  Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses do not send e-mails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information.

If a consumer receives such an e-mail, call the contact number on the Web site where the purchase was made to find out if there is a problem.

6.  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.

If there are any doubts about a site, right-click anywhere on the page and select “Properties.”

This will let you see the real URL (Web site address) and the dialog box will reveal if the site is not encrypted.

7.  Pay with a credit card – It’s best to use a credit card, because under federal law the shopper can dispute the charges if he or she doesn’t receive the item.

Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card, and many card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.

8.   Keep documentation of your order. After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by e-mail.

Save a copy of the Web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.

9.  Check your credit card statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements;

Check credit card statements for suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or by checking statements online regularly.

10.  Know your rights – Federal law requires 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.

If you have a question, call the Better Business Bureau at  502-588-0043.

The Better Business Bureau serves Louisville, Southern Indiana, and Western Kentucky.