Guidelines for Purchasing Items on the Internet
The Internet is an exciting resource that puts vast information at your fingertips. With a click of a mouse, it lets you buy an airline ticket, book a hotel, send flowers to a friend, or purchase your favorite stock.
Good deals, convenience, and choice abound on the Internet. But before you use all the Internet has to offer, be “cyber“ smart to make the most of your online experience.
Security on the Internet
Shopping online offers lots of benefits that you won’t find shopping in a store or by mail. The Internet is always open – seven days a week, 24 hours a day – and bargains can be numerous online. Shopping on the Internet is no less safe than shopping in a store or by mail. Keep the following tips in mind to help ensure that your online shopping experience is a safe one.
- Use a secure browser. This is the software you use to navigate the Internet. Your browser should comply with industry security standards, such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). These standards scramble the purchase information you send over the Internet, helping to secure your transaction. Most computers come with a browser installed. You also can download some browsers for free over the Internet.
- Shop with companies you know. Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name. If you’re not familiar with a merchant, ask for a paper catalog or brochure to get a better idea of its merchandise and services. Also, determine the company’s refund and return policies before you place your order. These should be posted on the company’s Web site.
- Keep your password private. Be creative when you establish a password, and never give it to anyone. Avoid using a telephone number, birth date or a portion of your Social Security number. Instead, use a combination of numbers, letters and symbols.
- Pay by credit or charge card, so that, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Under this law, you have the right to dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor is investigating them. In the event of unauthorized use of your credit or charge card, you generally would be held liable only for the first $50 in charges. Some companies offer an online shopping guarantee that ensures you will not be held responsible for any unauthorized charges made online, and some cards may provide additional warranty, return and/or purchase protection benefits.
- Keep a record. Be sure to print a copy of your purchase order and confirmation number for your records. Also, you should know that the Mail and Telephone Order Merchandise Rule covers online orders. This means that unless the company states otherwise, your merchandise must be delivered within 30 days; and if there are delays, the company must notify you.
- Pay your bills online. Some companies let you pay bills and check your account status online. Before you sign up for any service, evaluate how the company secures your financial and personal information. Many companies explain their security procedures on their Web site. If you don’t see a security description, call or email the company and ask.
Further information is available from http://www.ftc.gov/