How to Shop Safely on Cyber Monday
When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping...on Cyber Monday.
The orgy of holiday shopping has gradually shifted in recent years from brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday to the Internet sales day known as Cyber Monday. A recent consumer survey by Accenture revealed 53 percent of consumers are unlikely to shop on Black Friday yet 69 percent of respondents planned on buying holiday gifts online.
According to Accenture, the growing ambivalence toward Black Friday is driven by several factors. The major contributor is increased access to broadband Internet in American homes that makes it easier to bag big savings without braving crowds.
Discounts are the key motivator for most consumers, with free shipping offers leading the way. More than 87 percent of respondents to the Accenture survey said they wouldn't buy without a discount of at least 20 percent and 25 percent required an aggressive discount of 50 percent before entering their payment information.
Those who shop Cyber Monday, however, have likely staked out the territory ahead of time and know where to find the good sales. More important perhaps than scoping out the bargains, however, is knowing how to shop safely. Read on for 10 tips on how to shop safely today.
1. Protect your computer
Make sure your computer has the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall. Most software packages will automatically notify you when it's time to update. If you've ignored these reminders, take a moment before you plunge in to implement these changes.
2. Shop Trustworthy Websites
While you know you can trust Macy's or LL Bean, check for widely recognized "trustmarks" or the BBB seal on less well-known merchant websites to confirm they're valid. Verisign is the most commonly seen trustmark.
3. Protect Personal Information
4. Beware Extraordinary Offers
Excessively low prices from less-known merchants on hard-to-get items may actually be cons. They win your financial information and you lose--big time. Go with your instincts. Don't be afraid to pass up a “deal” that might cost you dearly in the end.
5. Phear Phishing
If you receive an e-mail offering you a dubious deal or an offer to set up an account, the Better Business Bureau recommends calling the contact number on the website where the purchase was made to confirm there really is a problem with the transaction.
6. Look For The "S"
Check the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the far right-bottom corner for the “lock” symbol.". If you have any doubts about a site, right-click anywhere on the page and select “Properties.” This will let you see the real URL and the dialog box will reveal if the site is not encrypted.
7. Use a Credit Card
While it's easy to overspend when paying with a credit card, plastic also provides security, so use discretion. Federal law allows you to dispute credit card charges if you don’t receive an item. You also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card.
8. Document Everything
After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or you might receive confirmation by email. Save a copy of this page and any emails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.
9. Check Credit Card Statements
Don’t wait for a paper statement. Go online frequently to look for suspicious activity and call your credit card company immediately if you find any irregularities. The same rule holds true for debit-card statements.
10. Know Your Rights
Federal law requires orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren’t shipped on time, you have the right to cancel and demand a refund. There's no general three-day cancellation right, but consumers do have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s the company’s policies that determine if you can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.
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