Buying Online

If you sometimes catch yourself sitting at your computer, surfing the net and looking for something cool to buy, strive to remain on the safe side of the online consumer world.

When you are shopping online, here are some things to consider, BEFORE you buy: First, know your consumer rights, and beware of all the common scams and complications of an online purchase.

Then as you shop remember to:
• Check the online/protection and security assurances the company offers.
• Comparison shop on the web for the product. You may find it sold for a lower price or with lower shipping and handling fees.
• Know the full business mailing address.
• Be familiar with website security. When a website is secure, a padlock with a closed lock will show up at the bottom of the screen or a little window will pop up saying that the website is secure. When you are filling out forms online, the padlock might show up again and/or the web address will read “https.”

Save all the information relating to your purchase on your computer, or print the transaction pages. When you pay with a credit card, the credit card company often provides some additional protection. Be cautious about giving out any of your personal information; some businesses sell this information to other companies. Once you have paid, the company may ask your permission to share information; you probably want to “opt out” and ask the company to keep your information private.

The online merchant should provide an estimate of when the goods will be mailed and/or received and if no date is specified the product should be shipped in 30 days. These consumer rights do not apply to the sale of land, online auctions, banking, or insurance.

If there is a problem with your purchase you generally have the same rights as if you made your purchase over the phone or by mail. If a formal, written complaint is necessary, know the date of purchase, the price and how you paid for the product.

Security and protection are necessities when buying online and could save you a lot of time, money, and energy. So whether you’re buying clothes, toys, or even a car, consumer safety is essential in the online consumer circus.