There's no question that shopping online is convenient. Online
buying is not only a timesaver, but it allows you to get great
deals when you compare prices of the same item from different
online shops. The Internet is like a central shopping mall,
where you can find just about everything you might need - from
groceries and clothing to collectibles and hard-to-find
Unfortunately, online buying also has its share of pitfalls.
According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, there were over
205,000 complaints of Internet commerce-related fraud reported
in 2004. The more than 184,000 consumers who paid money to the
companies about which they were complaining paid a median amount
of $214. Forty-eight percent of those complaints were regarding
Internet auctions, while 17 percent were related to sales of
Savvy consumers take appropriate precautions when shopping
online, so that they do not fall victim to fraud. While saying
that online shopping is just as safe as shopping in
brick-and-mortar stores, he Federal Trade Commission suggests
that consumers follow these guidelines when shopping online:
* Use an Internet browser that implements Secure Sockets Layer
(SSL). This helps to ensure that the personal information you
send to online shops is encrypted.
* Become familiar with the online shop. If you don't already
know their reputation, ask for a catalog or brochure. Be sure to
inquire about their return and refund policies.
* When creating a password, use a combination of letters,
numbers and symbols. Never share your password with anyone else.
* Use a credit card with online shops. If you must dispute the
transaction, using a credit card protects you under the Fair
Credit Billing Act.
* Print out a copy of your online receipt and your confirmation
number. According to law, an online shop must deliver the
merchandise within 30 days or notify you of a delay.
their website. It should tell you how they will use your
* Opt out of marketing choices. Many online shops will give you
a choice about whether or not you wish your personal information
to be shared with other companies or to be used for marketing
purposes. Prior to checking the box, be sure you will welcome
the ways in which the information will be used.
Shopping online is a great way to access goods and services 24
hours a day. An online shopping directory can give you a
multitude of choices for online shops. Just be sure you shop