Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Building off the momentum of Black Friday, Cyber Monday has quickly become the biggest online shopping day of the year. Retailers across the country entice consumers with deep discounts.

These post-Thanksgiving sales may offer great deals, but the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) encourages consumers to click ‘buy’ with caution. These simple tips will make sure you and your computer stay safe online.

• Protect your computer.  Make sure your computer has the most recent updates for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.

• Protect your personal information. Read the site’s privacy policy to understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If there isn’t one posted, it is a red flag that personal information may be sold to others without permission.

• If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Offers on web sites, and in unsolicited e-mails, can often sound too good to be true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items.

• Beware of phishing. Legitimate businesses do not send e-mails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the ‘buyer’ into revealing financial information. Do NOT reply to the email and do NOT provide confidential or identifying information, like your Social Security Number or your credit card.

• Confirm your online purchase is secure. Shoppers should always look in the address box for the ‘s’ in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the ‘lock’ symbol before paying.

• Pay with credit cards whenever possible. It’s easier to contest the charge if products are defective or misrepresented.

• Understand the return policy. Just like a brick and mortar retailer, online retailers may charge ‘restocking fees’ or exorbitant shipping and handling fees.

• Check your credit card statements often. By the time you get the credit card bill in January, a thief may have already burned through your limit.

• Know your rights. Federal law requires that 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, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. 

In October 2013, the AGO joined the global STOP.THINK.CONNECT. Internet safety campaign to educate consumers on cyber security best practices, and help keep all citizens safer and more secure online. For tips and other information visit /InternetSafety.aspx.

If you’ve been the victim of a consumer scam, file a complaint with the AGO by calling 1.800.551.4636 or visit /FileAComplaint.aspx. After filing a complaint, the AGO contacts the business to explain the complaint in order to help resolve the dispute. The complaint resolution process is free.

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