After Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, many shoppers crawl the web on Cyber Monday to find online specials. Cyber Monday, the Monday that falls after Black Friday, has become its own tradition, with eager consumers looking to score bargains on merchandise carried over from the holiday weekend. Better Business Bureau ® of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) offers their top ten tips for people looking to shop online safely, be it on November 27, or throughout the year.
Last year, according to Forbes, Cyber Monday sales amounted to $3.45 billion in sales, making it the biggest day ever in U.S. e-commerce history. If you’re planning on doing some shopping this Cyber Monday, here’s some advice to help ensure secure transactions.
Protect your computer – Your 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 – Research the seller’s reputation and track record for customer satisfaction at bbb.org. Look for BBB’s seal and other widely-recognized “trust marks” on retailer websites. Always remember to click on the seals to confirm that they are valid and check out customer reviews online, including those offered by Better Business Bureau.
Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – Offers found on less-traveled websites and in unsolicited emails sometimes advertise suspiciously low prices. When visiting a website, look for misspellings and grammatical errors, as these are signs the site might be fraudulent. Also, don’t enter phrases such as ‘best deals’ into search engines, as scammers might be lying in wait.
Make sure you’re getting a real deal. It’s always a good idea to comparison shop, even on and leading up to Cyber Monday. Make sure the deal you’re considering is actually a deal.
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 often 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 or merchandise they receive arrives damaged.
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 your purchase.
Check your credit card statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements; 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.
Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order or a past transaction to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. If a consumer receives such an email, avoid clicking on any links or attachments. Simply delete the email. Stay calm, don’t panic and always protect your personal and financial information.
Consumers should also be aware that, by law, a seller should ship your order within the time stated in its ad or posted on its website. If the seller doesn’t promise a delivery date, you can expect the item to be shipped within 30 days. If the seller is unable to ship the item within the promised time, they must notify you, provide a revised shipping date and offer you the chance to either cancel for a full refund or accept the new shipping date. For more fun facts and shopping tips, visit bbb.org/council/holiday-helper.