More and more Americans are buying things online, and Kansans are no exception. A recent Pew Research Center survey showed that nearly 80 percent of U.S. adults have made online purchases. More than half have used their smartphones to shop online. While we may appreciate the convenience of having things delivered directly to our doors, the scammers are taking advantage of these online shopping trends to get into our wallets as well.
Here are some helpful tips to keep you, your money and your personal information safe when buying online:
- Check out the seller. Make sure the website you’re buying from is a trusted, reputable seller. Today’s technology has made it easy for scammers to set up fake online stores, selling merchandise that may not even exist. If you’re considering buying from a website you’ve never used before, do a search for that website’s name and check their reviews on other trusted sites. Do not rely on the reviews on seller’s site, as these could be just as fake as the product they are selling.
- Learn about the product. Once you’ve identified a reputable website to make your purchase, make sure you know the details about the item you’re purchasing. You might get a great deal buying something used, but be sure to get a detailed description of the item’s condition. If new products are being sold at prices that sound too good to be true, this could be an indication that the item is a counterfeit or knock-off.
- Review the terms. Be sure you understand the seller’s return and refund policy, shipping and handling charges or any other unusual terms or conditions of the sale.
- Make sure the site is secure. Before entering any payment information, be sure the site you’re using is secure. You can check this by looking at the address bar in your web browser. Many browsers display a lock icon to indicate the site is secure. You can also check the site’s URL by making sure it begins with https, not just http. This ensures that your personal information, including your contact information and credit card numbers are sent through an encrypted connection and not intercepted by hackers.
- Guard your personal information. Legitimate online businesses do not need you to hand over your date of birth or social security number.
- Pay with a credit card. A red flag for a fraudulent transaction is one that asks you to wire payment. The safest way to pay for online transactions is through a credit card, which provides you the ability to dispute fraudulent charges.
- Save your receipts. Keep paper or electronic copies of receipts for all of your online purchases. Save them at least as long as the allowed return period, or if the item contains a warranty, as long as that warranty is valid.
If you wish to file a complaint about an online transaction or any other scams please contact our office at 1-800-432-2310 or online at www.InYourCornerKansas.org.