Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

If shoppers don’t find the deals they seek on Black Friday, “Cyber Monday” is an opportunity to shop from the comfort of their own home. Online retailers promote the Monday after Thanksgiving as a day for exceptional bargains. Here are some tips for shopping safely online:

  •  Protect yourself and your computer. Make sure your computer has the most recent updates for anti-malware software. Malicious software, or malware, can compromise the security of your personal information. Malware infects computers through email attachments, online ads, downloads, web browsing etc. It’s also a good idea to read the site’s privacy policy to understand exactly what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If a privacy policy isn’t posted, it is a red flag that personal information may be sold to others without permission.


  •  Check to make sure you are shopping on a secure website. The American Bar Association (ABA)created a useful website called Safeshopping.org that provides many online shopping tips, including how to check whether the website is secure or not. The ABA points out that the security of a webpage is signified by "https" (rather than just "http") at the beginning of the website address. The "s" means secure and indicates that information is transmitted using Secure Sockets Layer encryption, which is the industry standard.


  •  Conduct an internet search on the company you want to buy from online. Read the reviews, especially if you haven’t ordered from a company before. If there are a lot of negative reviews, it’s probably a good idea to steer clear of that company.


  •  Research return policies and warranties. Make sure they meet your needs before you buy the item.


  •  Pay with credit cards rather than debit cards and check your statements often. Debit cards are often linked directly to your checking account. If you are victim of fraud, having used a credit card can help minimize the damage by not giving thieves direct access to your bank account. Use a credit card that offers “charge back” protection in case of a problem. When possible, couple that with a third-party payment service such as PayPal for privacy.

If you’ve been the victim of a consumer scam, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1.800.551.4636 or visit /FileAComplaint.aspx .



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