Tips for Shopping Online

Monday, November 21 at 01:05 PM
Category: Personal Finance
With the holidays right around the corner, you’ll probably be taking advantage of online shopping. Use these tips to help you be smart about what sites you make purchases from.

Know who you're dealing with.
Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name. Confirm the online seller's physical address and phone number in case you have questions or problems. If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for your financial information while you’re browsing, don't reply or follow the link. Legitimate companies don't ask for information that way.

Know what you're buying.
Read the seller's description of the product closely, especially the fine print. Words like "refurbished," "vintage" or "close-out" may indicate the product is in less-than-mint condition, while name-brand items with bargain basement prices could be counterfeits.

Know what it will cost.
Check out websites that offer price comparisons and then compare "apples to apples." Factor shipping and handling into the total cost of your purchase. Do not use money transfer systems you cannot find credible information about or have experience with.

Check out the terms of the deal, like refund policies and delivery dates.
Can you return the item for a full refund if you're not satisfied? If you return it, who pays the shipping costs or restocking fees, and when will you get your order? A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule requires sellers to ship items as promised or within 30 days after the order date if no specific date is promised. Many sites offer tracking options, so you can see exactly where your purchase is and estimate when you’ll get it.

Pay by credit card.
If you pay by credit or charge card online, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Under this law, you can dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor investigates them. In the event someone uses your credit card without your permission, your liability generally is limited to the first $50 in charges. Some companies guarantee you won’t be held responsible for any unauthorized charges made to your card online; some cards provide additional warranty, return and purchase protection benefits.

Keep records.
Print or save records of your online transactions, including the product description and price, the online receipt, and the emails you send and receive from the seller. Read your credit card statements as you receive them; be on the lookout for charges you don’t recognize.

Protect your information.
Don't email any financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting financial information like your credit card, checking account or Social Security number. If you begin a transaction and need to give your financial information through an organization's website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a URL that begins "https" (the "s" stands for secure). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some fraudulent sites have forged security icons.

Check the privacy policy.
Really. It should let you know what personal information the website operators are collecting, why and how they're going to use the information. If you can't find a privacy policy — or if you can't understand it — consider taking your business to another site that's more user-friendly.

Following these tips can help you shop online with peace of mind.

Information courtesy of Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information. 

Tags: Credit Cards, Financial Education, Privacy and Security
Jean Anthofer on 11/26/2016 at 12:21 PM
Bought product on Internet (should be a one time purchase). But am getting a charge to my acct for enormous amounts. I bought a sample cosmetic. Who can I talk to and how do I proceed? Samples came supposedly just for. The shipping. New. Charges are over 85dollars. Twice. And for two products!
Arvest Blog Admin on 11/28/2016 at 3:51 PM

Jean - We're sorry to hear you're receiving unauthorized charges. To dispute a transaction on a credit card, please call (800) 356-8085 or complete the Credit Card Dispute form online. To dispute a transaction on a debit card or for other disputes or problems with your account(s), please call (866) 952-9523 to speak with a customer service representative.

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