Online shopping can be dangerous

Jill Fier

Jill Fier

Online shopping is becoming so commonplace today you would probably have a hard time finding someone who hasn’t done it at least once.

While the convenience of finding a new CD or cheap used textbooks from the comfort of the ir own homes often tempt people to turn to the World Wide Web for purchases, it can also be dangerous.

Delane Smith, the Director of Operations of the Office of the Attorney General’s Division of Consumer Protection said online shoppers should always be aware of the risk of online shopping.

One of the first things to look for is how much information a company is presenting to consumers on its website.

“If you cannot find a phone number or a physical address [on the website], then they probably don’t want to deal with customers,” Smith said.

Smith also said it is a good idea to look for the padlock symbol at the bottom of the toolbox, and to make sure you are reading the site’s privacy policy. “If you cannot find those things on the site, then they probably don’t have them.”

Another scam on the Internet that Smith said she sees a lot of is something called phishing. This is where a company contacts consumers saying they already have an account set up with you. They then take advantage of you by soliciting personal and financial information.

Other tips to practice while shopping online include:

*Have a credit card to use for only Internet purchases. Keep the purchase limit low to limit the amount of damage that can be done if the number gets in the wrong hands.

*When making purchases, print off screens as you go.

*Use a credit card rather than money orders because card companies have dispute processes for unauthorized purchases.

*Only buy from companies you know and trust.

*Beware of sending money or information to blind P.O. boxes.