Great deals and variety can be found from online merchants. Consumers need to be careful and watch for problems when buying on the Internet. Tips for shopping safely:
- Sites that are known or recommended are the safest and least risky.
- Compare prices and deals. You may find free shipping, extended services contracts or other offers.
- Search online for online coupons known as promo codes, which offer discounts, free shipping, etc. You can use these codes during online checkout. Sites that offer promo codes may also offer printable coupons for bricks-and-mortar stores.
- Before you buy, get a complete description of the item and parts included, and the price including shipping, delivery time, warranty information, return policy and complaint procedure.
- Before you finalize the order, make sure the quantity and total price are correct — for example, don't buy 11 items when you mean to buy one.
- Pay with a credit card. Federal law protects you if you need to dispute charges — but it doesn't apply to debit cards, checks, cash, money orders or other forms of payment.
- Use a secure browser. Look for an address that starts with https, rather than http. Also look for a closed padlock icon, usually in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.
- Print your purchase order with details of the product and your confirmation number.
- Buy over the phone if you prefer - most online retailers provide a toll-free number. Make note of the time and date of the purchase, product information, order number and the name of the clerk who takes your order.