6 Things to Know Before Shopping Online

It’s no wonder why online shopping is so popular – it’s fast, convenient, and can be done without actually leaving your home (or couch for that matter). But not being face-to-face with the person you’re buying something from can also mean trouble. Before you shop online, keep these things in mind:

1) The URL

Before you do any shopping, verify that the URL of the website you want to visit is valid. This may seem like a no-brainer, but many cyber criminals create websites with similar names to trick online shoppers. For example: PayPal’s website is https://www.paypal.com, however there are several other websites that claim to be PayPal, such as www.paypalsecure.com and www.secure-paypal.com that are actually fake.

2) The Return Policy

Always check the company’s return policy before you buy something online. Many will only let you return something within a certain time period and often times, there are different return policies for different items (such as furniture, electronics, clothing, etc.). Also, be wary of websites that don’t accept returns or have a very vague return policy.

3) The Reviews

Customer reviews can give you some great insight in an online shopping situation. Try to do your shopping on websites that feature reviews, like Amazon or Walmart. This way, you can figure out what people like or dislike about what you’re buying before you buy it.

4) The Full Price

Don’t forget – you’re most likely going to pay a shipping cost for the things you buy online, but before you fork over your credit card, browse around and check other websites for what you want. You may find it listed somewhere else as more expensive, but once you calculate shipping costs, it may actually be cheaper.

5) The Credit/Debit Card Difference

There are a few instances where your credit card is a better choice than your debit card, and online shopping is one of them. Because your debit card is linked directly to your checking account, you leave yourself open to being taken advantage of. Your credit card will give you a buyer protection that lets you file a dispute if there is something wrong with the product you receive – that’s something you won’t get with a debit card.

6) The Overseas Policy

If you’re purchasing something from a retailer that is overseas, make sure you fully understand the company’s warranty, return policy, privacy policy, etc. For example: A product you purchased in Australia may come with a warranty, but once it hits the U.S., the warranty may not be valid.

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