CLEARWATER — Online shopping continues to be popular with consumers. Many subscribe to retailers’ emails or see ads on social media for great online deals, especially during the holidays.
Better Business Bureau® is the trusted source for all things online shopping this holiday season. From finding online retailers at BBB.org, to advice on social media ads, returns, gift cards, and protecting your purchases, you will find this and more at BBB.org/OnlineShopping.
BBB has tips to help you get exactly what you want and need from online retailers this holiday season.
• Look for the BBB Seal. Check if the businesses you want to shop from are BBB Accredited. If a business has a BBB Accreditation, it shows consumers that the business prioritizes trust in the marketplace and adds a layer of confidence and peace of mind for all consumers. When shopping online, look for the BBB Seal, the Sign of a Better Business.
• Know the advertiser. Some of the best deals are only available online, but be careful. It’s easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer’s website, so make sure you shop with a legitimate site. Check out retailers at BBB.org before you shop.
• Check a site’s security settings. If the site is secure, its URL (web address) should start with “HTTPS://” and include a lock icon on the purchase or shopping cart page.
• Be a savvy shopper. When shopping online, take your time and read the fine print before submitting your order. Look for the return policy; although many online orders can be returned for a full refund, others have restocking fees. Some items cannot be returned; know before you buy.
• Think before you click. Be especially cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media sites. Many sketchy retailers advertise great deals or trendy clothing that doesn’t match the promotional hype.
• Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. Offers on websites and unsolicited emails may offer free or very low prices on hard-to-find items. There may be hidden costs, or your purchase may sign you up for a monthly charge. Look for and read the fine print.
• Beware of phishing. Phishing emails can look like a message from a well-known brand, but clicking on unfamiliar links can place you at risk for malware and/or identity theft.
• Shop with a credit card. In a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protection; it’s easier to dispute charges you didn’t approve or get your money back if there is a problem. In most cases, debit cards, prepaid cards, payment apps, or gift cards don’t have the same protections as credit cards.
• Keep documentation of your order. Save a copy of the confirmation page or email confirmation until you receive the item and are satisfied. Know and understand the return policy and keep this documented with your purchase records.
• Keep a clean machine. Install a firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software for network security. Check for and install the latest updates and run virus scans regularly on your computer, tablet, and smartphone.