I plan to do a lot of my holiday shopping online to avoid the dual duty of driving to the mall and then packing everything off to the post office. With a few clicks, my gifts will be headed straight for my friends and family.
If you shop online, here are 12 questions to ask to determine if your credit card info safe and to ensure a site is legit.
1. Is the site a trusted retailer?
2. Have you or a close friend shopped there before with good results?
3. Is the retailer registered with the Better Business Bureau? Are there unresolved complaints? How were previous complaints handled?
4. Does the site display one or more logos from an Internet trust organization, like VeriSign, or Mcafee?
6. Does the site have a customer service page?
7. Is the return policy explained clearly and is it reasonable?
8. Does the site have a working phone number? Does the site share its address? Call the number and see if anyone answers. Can the representative answer a basic question about the company, like what is the return policy?
9. Are safe payment options accepted, like credit card or Paypal? If a site only accepts cashier’s checks or wire transfers, run. You can contest a credit card charge if need be and Paypal offers a full refund if an item never arrives or if it is significantly different than described.
10. When you checkout, does the website address appear as https…? That “s” stands for secure and means your credit card info is encrypted as your purchase is processed.
11. If you Google the site name “reviews,” do you find positive comments? If a site has multiple complaints about customer service, shop elsewhere.
12. Has the site been around for years? Be skeptical of brand new sites and check them out thoroughly before you buy. Really new sites may not have a BBB rating or costumer reviews to go by.
The more “yes” answers to the above questions, the more trusted the site is. If you answered more than 1 or 2 “nos,” consider shopping elsewhere. Here are three more questions to consider. If you answer yes to any of these, shop elsewhere.
- Does the site ask for a credit card even if you’re not making a purchase?
- Does the item the site is selling seem too good to be true?
- Does the site ask for personal info that seems extraneous – like your social security number, your mother’s maiden name, or the school you went to for fifth grade?