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Safe Online Shopping 17 Jul 2013 16:03 #1

Except for a few things like groceries and gas, I do most of my shopping online. It’s fast, convenient, safe, great prices and selections, free shipping from lots of etailers, most purchases are tax free in my state, and returns are pretty easy with the right etailer; but watch out for the phishing attacks.

Phishing is a type of online identity theft. It uses email and fraudulent websites that are designed to steal your personal data or information such as credit card numbers, passwords, account data, or other information.

Con artists might send millions of fraudulent email messages with links to fraudulent websites that appear to come from websites you trust, like your bank or credit card company, and request that you provide personal information. Criminals can use this information for many different types of fraud, such as to steal money from your account, to open new accounts in your name, or to obtain official documents using your identity.

So how do you protect yourself and check out a company before you purchase something from it: Do the research

1. Consumer Reports has a fairly good article, Be you own Consumer Watchdog , but it falls a bit short on a few things. Be sure to read page 2 on the BBB.

2. Safe Shopping is an excellent site.

3. 10 tips to avoid getting burned

4. Check the state attorney general office’s website of the state the etailer is in. Some have complaint databases you can check.

5. Resellerratings One of my go to sites, but read the reviews carefully, especially the negative ones, as more people are apt to post negative reviews than positive reviews.
Here’s an example of a review of a mattress etailer at resellerratings and their BBB rating. I was looking at headboards at the US-Mattress website. I have never purchased anything from this company so I decided to check them out. At resellerratings out of 546 reviews they have an excellent rating of 9.46/10 ; but the BBB gives them a D+ rating , 78 closed complaints in 3 years, only 1 not responded to. So how do you interpret this? Do they deserve a D+ rating? This is the BBB grading system. www.bbb.org/business-reviews/ratings/

7. For every internet purchase I use a Citibank virtual credit card number. If you have a Citibank credit card you can download a small program from their website, log into it, and it will generate a virtual credit card number good for only one purchase. I do not want my real credit card numbers floating around the internet. TJ Maxx/Marshall’s credit card database was hacked into.

8. But sometimes even with very good reliable etailers things can go wrong.

The best thing to do is to try to work it out with the etailer. Most of the time the problem can be resolved with just a phone call. A large part of my assessment of a retailer is not if and how fast I receive my order, but how good or bad is their customer service if something goes wrong with the transaction.
Amazon, IMO, has one of the best customer service departments. You can cancel an order before it ships with just an email, no questions asked. A few weeks ago an item I ordered was stuck in a Shipping Now holding pattern for 5 days. I emailed them about the delay. Within an hour I had a reply. They told me they were shipping it right out and gave me a $10. credit.

If the problem cannot be resolved you can file a complaint with the BBB I have had mixed results with them. There have been allegations of a "pay to play" culture in which higher ratings were awarded to businesses that paid for membership status. ABC news story

You can also file a complaint with the state attorney general office I have only done this once, after a BBB complaint yielded no results, for a product rebate I failed to receive. I got the rebate check in 1 week.

You can file a dispute with your credit card company over a charge. www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0219-fair-credit-billing

As the CR article says, “Be your own Consumer Watchdog”.

This maybe OT, maybe not, since many of us buy new mattresses when we move; but last year when we moved to TN I had no idea where to look to find a good reputable mover. I found a great one here. Moving Scam Forum Great website, it’s the Mattress Underground of moving. One last tip: get a minimum of 3 moving cost estimates.

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Last edit: by BobP.

Safe Online Shopping 17 Jul 2013 18:51 #2

Hi BobP,

Thanks for adding some great information to the forum.

I've also linked your post to the PS: at the end of the online vs local thread here so that others who are considering the pros and cons of online vs local can benefit from it as well.

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Safe Online Shopping 18 Jul 2013 06:39 #3

Thanks, Phoenix

One other thing, not sure if it was covered in the links, is to check your credit card activity often. I have only found 1 unauthorized charge on one of my credit cards from a web software store. After contacting the store and my cc company I had the charge removed. I was told by my cc company that it happens due to the etailer submitting the wrong cc number.

I do not believe in having a bunch of credit cards. I have only 2. That's more than enough. Why do you need a store cc? All stores take most major credit cards. I was thinking about getting a Lowes card because they give you 5% off, but I can get 5% off if I link to Lowes through ShopDiscover, and Citibank has their Citi Bonus Cash Center which offers similar discounts.

I tried to cover all the bases on Safe Online Shopping. If anyone has anything to add please do so.

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