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‘TIS THE SEASON...FOR ONLINE SHOPPING
How to Avoid Getting Grinched

11/28/05

Online Shopping GraphicHappy "Cyber Monday!"

We hear the Monday after Thanksgiving is now one of the busiest days—if not the busiest day—of the year for online shopping. That's why some retailers are calling it "Cyber Monday" or even "Black Monday."

And that’s why we’d like to start your online shopping off right with some words to the wise.

Here's our specific advice for shopping safely on the Internet:

  • Do your homework on the web retailer. Make sure you're buying items from a reputable and legitimate company. Don't judge the business by its website. Make sure the site has a physical address and a working phone number. Check consumer websites for information about the company.
  • When using your credit card for purchases, make sure the website is secure. Look for the tiny padlock icon that symbolizes (but doesn’t necessarily guarantee) a higher level of security. Also, check out the site’s security or encryption software.
  • Be very cautious when responding to special offers (especially those that come via unsolicited e-mail) and when dealing with companies or persons outside the country.
  • If you’re participating in an Internet auction, read the fine print. Before you bid, learn as much as you can about how the auction works, what your responsibilities are as a buyer, what the seller’s obligations are, and what actions the website takes if a problem occurs. Learn as much as you can about the seller. And don’t give out your social security number or driver’s license number to the seller.

Also, make sure your computer has a firewall and the latest anti-virus software. And we can’t repeat this enough: don’t open unknown e-mail attachments, including those contained in recent messages that appear to come from the FBI.

What should you do if you think you've been scammed? Go online and file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center run by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and contact your local police. We also recommend that you file a complaint with the retailer.

For more information tips on avoiding fraud and protecting your family from crime, visit our Be Crime Smart webpage.