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Online Shopping Protections

November 26, 2012, 9:50 PM by Angela Kennecke

Online Shopping Protections

We've survived Black Friday and Small Business Saturday; now Cyber Monday has arrived.  While you still have a couple of hours to shop the deals and discounts, there are some things you should know when you order online.

Cyber Monday was coined back in 2005 as the day to shop online because people returned to work where they had high-speed Internet.  That's not much of a factor these days with high-speed Internet everywhere and mobile devices.  But even so, Cyber Monday is expected to be the biggest online shopping day of the year for the third year in a row with $1.5 billion dollars spent by consumers.

Most people are comfortable shopping online, but you still need to do your homework.  The first rule of thumb is to make sure the site you're on is legitimate and that starts with check for an address and phone number.

"Anybody can put up a good website. You need to do the due diligence there," Jody Swanson of Consumer Protection said.

And it's good to watch out for knock-off items, where the price is too good to be true or the hot-ticket items that can sell out quickly.  If you don't receive an item you ordered online, you need to know your rights.

"If they cannot provide that service to you in 30 days, they have to give you notification that, 'This is our attempted ship date.'  If that's not applicable to you, you can request your money back.  If you do not respond back to them, they have to give you your money back," Swanson said.

It's also good to know the return policy and if you need to have a return of merchandise number. 

"You can call for days on end and they're never going to get in touch with somebody, so you've waved your ten-day grace period, so always check terms and conditions with hit," Swanson said.

Finally, use a credit card or a debit card associated with MasterCard or Visa. It offers you more protection than a service like PayPal. 

"At least you have protection 60 days from time it posts to your credit card, you can dispute those charges. If you haven't received it in 30 days, dispute the charges," Swanson said.

Of course, you'll want to make sure any site you're punching those credit card numbers into is secure.  Confirm the website is secure by looking at the URL; there should be for an "s" after "http." 

If you're using a phone or tablet to shop, make sure you're on a secure connection to the internet so no one can steal your credit card information.  

And the deals don't end with Cyber Monday; shoppers can also look forward to Mobile Tuesday.

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