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A Special Tip from The BBB

Tips for Online Shopping Safety

In cyberspace, crooks perpetuate their scams quickly, leaving no paper trails and bypassing all geographic boundaries. Here's what to know to make online shopping safer:

To help you shop safely online, the BBB offers the following advice:

  • Don't rely on a professional looking website as proof of a company's quality or good reputation.
  • Investigate a company or seller before you buy.
  • Find out where a company is physically located to help avoid overseas or offshore scams.
  • Never give out your bank account number, credit card number or personal information unless you're certain a company is legitimate.
  • Pay for your purchases with a major credit card rather than your debit card. Credit card charges are easier to dispute. Also, credit cards ensure you are not giving someone access to your bank account and immediate cash flow.
  • Start with a small, inexpensive purchase to see how the company handles your order.
  • Always use a secure internet browser that encrypts or scrambles your personal or financial information.
Craigslist and eBay

Don't think that you are immune to scams just because they are well known and reputable sites. Craigslist and eBay have their fair share of scammers posing as individuals with good intentions who are looking to sell, buy or barter just like you.

The BBB offers the following tips to ensure a safe online shopping experience:

Never wire money via Western Union, Money Gram or any other form of wire transfer. This will ALWAYS be a scam!
  • For Craigslist users, deal with local individuals you can meet personally. According to Craigslist, by following this simple rule, you can avoid 99% of scams perpetuated on Craigslist.
  • For eBay users, look at feedback and always leave a paper trail. In other words, always pay with a credit card through a trusted third party site like PayPal. Don't ever trust a seller that recommends that you leave eBay's site to make your transaction outside of eBay.
The internet can be a dangerous place to shop if you don't know what you are doing. Your choices are vast and scammers can easily hide under a cloak of anonymity. Therefore, by following our common sense advice and being aware of some of the "red flags," you can ensure a successful shopping experience.