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Monday, November 30, 2015

BUFFALO -- With today expected to contribute significantly to the anticipated $105 billion in online sales this holiday season, Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York offers advice on how to to shop savvy online to keep your holidays financially happy this year.

“We know the public will be shopping online, especially millennials, to save time, money and ship gifts around the globe,” said Warren Clark, president and CEO, BBB of Upstate New York. “History tells us not all online retailers are trustworthy so it’s important that shoppers remember to be careful: The Internet is rife with unscrupulous business practices that can separate shoppers from their money or steal their personal information. Some companies may not be able to deliver gifts in time for the holidays making it very important to check delivery and stock.”

Shoppers can prepare themselves for online shopping by watching ads and browsing for the items they’re seeking in advance. Many online sites have Cyber Monday deals advertised and it’s just the beginning. Unless you’re educated, it can be hard to tell whether an online deal actually will save you money. Consumers need to read a site’s policies for returns and understand shipping schedules before you enter your credit card number.

Protect your computer and smart device. Install a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Check for and install the latest updates for your smart phone and tablets and run virus scans regularly.

Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your phone. When shopping or banking, check to be sure the site is security enabled. Look for web addresses with "https://" or "shttp://," which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. "Http://" is not secure.

Shop trustworthy websites: Look for BBB Accredited Business seals on websites and click to confirm that they’re valid. BBB dynamic seals will take you to a site’s BBB Business Review. You also may find Customer Reviews at

Protect personal information. Read a site’s privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. Don’t enter that information on unsolicited emails. If a site lacks a privacy policy, it could be a red flag that the site could sell your information without your permission.

Know the advertiser. Some of the best deals are only available online, but be careful. It’s easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer’s website, so make sure you are shopping with a legitimate site. Check out to read more about stores or websites unfamiliar to you.

Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails may display free or very low prices on hard-to-find items. There may be hidden costs or your purchase may sign you up for a monthly charge. Look for and read the fine print.

Beware of phishing. Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order, account or a package to lure the buyer into revealing financial information. If you receive such an email, BBB recommends that you pick up the phone and call the contact number on the website where the purchase was made to confirm a problem.

Pay with a credit card. Under federal law, you can dispute the charges if you don’t receive an item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are any unauthorized charges on the card, and many card issuers have zero-liability policies if someone steals and uses your card number. Check your credit card statement regularly for unauthorized charges. Never wire money to someone you don’t know.

Keep documentation of your order. Save a copy of the confirmation page of an order or emails confirming the order until you receive the item and are satisfied. Obtain a tracking number for shipments. If you need the product before the holidays, find out when the seller intends to ship it and, if possible, how it will be shipped. The tracking number can help you find a lost order.

Know your rights. Federal law requires that orders made by phone, mail or online be shipped by the date promised or within 30 days if no delivery time was stated. If goods aren’t shipped on time, shoppers can cancel and demand a refund. Consumers also may reject merchandise if it is defective or was misrepresented. IF you need help from BBB, contact themat or call 800-828-5000.

Report a scam. If you spot a business or offer that sounds like an illegal scheme or fraud, report it through BBB’s Scam Tracker. They will investigate and warn others by reporting your experiences.

East Niagara Post is the official media sponsor of Hockey Day in Lockport.


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