Now that you've read our Guide, are you ready to go shopping
online? Here's a summary checklist of questions and circumstances to
keep in mind. Answers to these questions will depend on your desires,
situation, and comfort level.
Smart Online Buying Practices
- Are you familiar with this retailer?
- What do you know about the merchant's reputation and trustworthiness?
- Have you shopped with this retailer before, or received a recommendation from someone you know?
- Is the retailer in compliance with regulations enforced by your stateØs consumer protection agency?
- Did you "click-through" on reputation logos, to test their authenticity?
- Is warranty and repair information posted? Have you checked for special offers, coupons, discounts, and rebates?
- Have you confirmed that there are no restrictions on sale or delivery to your location? Do you know how much it will cost for shipping and handling, taxes, rush delivery, or duties?
- How much are you able or willing to spend on a product or service? How much time do you have to research your options?
- Are you using the method of payment that is best for you? If you are using your credit card, are you doing so because it offers protection? If you are buying from an unknown merchant, are you using an escrow account to make sure you are satisfied with the product before paying? If there is no way to make a secure payment online, are you using an off-line payment method?
- Have you written down your account identification and password, then filed it in a safe place? Have you printed out records of your order, confirmation, vendor contact, return policy, and warranty?
- Have you taken precautions against fraud? Do you know where to get help and how to report fraud if it occurs?
Protecting Your Privacy
- Are you sure your password is secure on your computer?
- Have you chosen a unique passwordone that has not been shared with anyone?
- Have you used separate passwords for every account, and are they filed somewhere off line?
- Did you remember to exit from your web browser after completing each transaction, to clear the password from your computerØs cache?
- Does anyone else have access to your computer and online accounts?
- Is your credit card information kept in a safe place?
- Do you have a file of credit card numbers on your hard drive where others might find it?
- Are you careful not to keep your credit card bills near your computer?
- Did you confirm that the site is secure before submitting Personally Identifiable Information (PII)? (PII includes your Social Security number, place of birth, mother's maiden name, driver's license number, bank account information, or credit card number.)
- Did you look to make sure there is a symbol of a whole key or closed padlock on the page?
- Does the browser page include a statement that the page is secure?
- Does the URL start with this: "https://"?
- Do you only provide PII when it is necessary for the transaction, and only provide PII that is absolutely necessary?
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