QUESTION: Its more difficult these days for me to go shopping in stores and I am thinking I would like to start online shopping. How can I protect myself from fraud?
ANSWER: It is important to pay attention when online shopping to make sure you are not only protecting yourself against fraud, but also that you are getting what you pay for. There are some easy steps to take to help protect yourself.
First, know the website you are using. Stick to online websites for companies you are acquainted with or can verify by calling them. It is easy for someone to create a fake website.
If you get a pop-up message when visiting a shopping site, do not click it. A pop-up is usually a small window that suddenly appears (“pops up”) on the page you are viewing. It is a form of online advertising. Close the website and be careful about using that site again.
Look for websites that begin with “https.” The “s” stands for secure. While this doesn’t guarantee security, it does reduce your risk. If you stick to stores you used to frequent in person you will also be confident in the quality of the item you are ordering
Every website should have terms for refunds or replacements, so be sure to know what those terms are. If you need to return the item or if arrives defective, how will you navigate returning it? Will you have to pay to ship the item back or is free shipping on returns included? What is the window for returning items? Always have a backup plan that is realistic for you.
Check the reviews of an item before you buy it. Make sure you scroll down to see the negative reviews too. Making a big purchase and don’t know where to start? Use a search engine to look for reviews and comparisons of the leading brands. Set your budget and search for coupons. Sometimes just signing up on a website with your email address will earn you a percentage off your first order. However, keep in mind you will be getting emails from that retailer on a frequent basis.
Some companies will ask if you want to set up an account for easier use in the future. If you chose to do this, make sure to create an original password. You can use a phrase and incorporate symbols as well as numbers and letters. The longer and more complicated, the better for security. However, you want to be able to remember it as well. If you chose to keep your passwords written down somewhere make sure that location is secure, such as in a locked filing cabinet.
When you order online always use a credit card. Using a credit card provides certain protections under the Fair Credit Billing Act. It allows you to dispute the charges and reduces your liability. Be sure to review your monthly credit card statement before you pay the bill so you are sure all the charges are accurate.
Once you have made your order, keep track of when the package is expected to arrive. There has been an increase in package thefts. Know when to expect your package so you can remove it from your front doorstep quickly.
Enjoy the ease of shopping from your own home. You can comparison shop prices and styles at multiple store without even leaving your couch. However, be aware it may be too easy to spend more than you planned. Set your budget and shop from a list so you do not get distracted and lured in to making other purchases. Happy shopping and stay safe.
Holiday Jazz Concerts and Paintscaping Light Show
Thursday through Sunday, December 12-15, 2019 from 6-8pm.
Burlington Court at the Janss Marketplace, 275 N Moorpark Rd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
“Will You Pass Your Driving Test” Seminar
Thursday December 19th 1:30pm – 3:00pm
Simi Valley Senior Center – 3900 Avenida Simi, Simi Valley, CA
For reservations call 805-583-6363