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How To Shop Safely Online At Christmas

Dec 7, 2007
Thinking about shopping for the holidays? Its no secret that browsing and buying online can save you time, money, and effort. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nations consumer protection agency, says shoppers who stop and think before they click can prevent an online Scrooge from interfering with their purchases and ultimately, their holiday fun.

The FTC and the technology industry recently launched OnguardOnline, a campaign to help consumers integrate online safety into their daily online routines. The agency says that consumers who take a few precautions when theyre online can help minimize the chances of a mishap. Among the tips from OnGuardOnline are:

Know who you are dealing with.
Anyone can set up shop online. Confirm an online sellers physical address and phone number in case you need to get in touch with them. If you get an email or pop-up message from the seller while you are browsing that asks for financial information, dont reply or click on the link in the message. Legitimate companies do not ask for this information via email or pop-ups.

Read between the lines.
Read the sellers description of the product closely, especially the fine print. Words like refurbished, vintage, or close-out may indicate that the product is in less-than-mint condition; name-brand items with too good to be true prices could be counterfeits. Check out websites that offer price comparisons and then, compare apples to apples. Factor shipping and handling into the total cost of the order. Then, stack these costs against your budget and needs.

Pay by credit or charge card.
Do not send cash under any circumstances. If you pay by credit or charge card online, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Under this law, you have the right to dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor is investigating. In the event your credit or charge card is used without your knowledge and permission, you generally are liable for no more than $50 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 benefits.

Check out the terms of the deal.
EG: refund policies and delivery dates. Can you return the item for a full refund? If you return it, who pays the shipping costs or restocking fees? Check on when you can expect to receive your order. 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 gift receipt be included in the package.
About the Author
Digital Products Home has a variety of world class ebooks that will answer all your burning desires. Find out how Shop Safely Online and more in our Christmas Celebration Category.
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