Online shopping tips to avoid scams

(NC) Online shopping is a favourite pastime for many — it’s easy, and done in the comfort of your own home, meaning you don’t need to battle traffic, crowds or line-ups to get your favourite items.

But many deals you see online are too good to be true. These can range from cheap designer purses to significantly discounted electronic items—. It’s upsetting when you trade your hard-earned cash for nothing or something of poor quality. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself:

  1. Do your homework. Know exactly who and where you are buying from, fully review feedback and try to buy from companies or individuals you know by reputation or from past experience.
  2. Pay with credit. Many credit card companies offer consumers protection against fraudulent charges, and may even give you a refund if your card was used without authorization. Never provide your personal, credit card or account information unless you are certain the site is legitimate.
  3. Comparison shop. Don’t be afraid to shop around, looking for comparable products at comparable prices. If the product you’re looking at is dramatically cheaper than in reputable stores, there’s likely something off.
  4. Beware of ads. Don’t take ads on social media platforms or other websites at face value just because they are displayed on trusted sites. In most cases, anyone can buy an ad, and most websites and social media companies do not verify the quality or truthfulness of the advertisements they run.
  5. Use extra caution on classified sites. Beware if a seller’s ratings has no or limited feedback. Never make a deal outside the auction site, and be cautious of items offered through online classified ads for extremely low prices. You may want to use an escrow service like PayPal for payment. It will hold your payment and only release it to the seller once you have confirmed that you received what you paid for.

If you do fall victim to an online shopping scam, contact your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office and consider getting independent legal advice to examine your options. There may be a cooling-off period or you may be able to negotiate a refund.

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