State consumer safety experts release advice for online shopping
With Black Friday and the holiday shopping season fast approaching, the New York State Division of Consumer Protection has some tips and tricks for shopping safely online.
“This holiday season packs a punch for cost-conscious New Yorkers as they battle rising prices and ever-evolving scams,” said the New York Secretary of State, Robert Rodriguez, who oversees the Consumer Protection Division.
“New Yorkers should know how to spot fake online reviews, fake texts posing as package delivery companies, and they should never keep their credit cards on file for future purchases. There are laws to protect consumers, but consumers also need to know how to protect themselves from scammers this holiday season.
The convenience of shopping online creates both opportunities and challenges for consumers, officials said. One of the main challenges is determining what is true or false, as scammers find new and more sophisticated ways to deceive consumers.
Safety tips for online shopping:
Don’t rush when buying online. With just the click of a button, we can quickly shop across multiple sites, browse hundreds of items, make comparisons, find deals, read consumer reviews, and make purchase decisions for a variety of items. . Before you click, take the time to carefully read and consider what you’re buying and who you’re buying it from.
Be careful when shopping on social media. Social media commerce is gaining momentum among shoppers and, according to experts, it is growing three times faster than traditional e-commerce. Watch out for brand imposters and fake retailers with fake consumer reviews. Avoid placing orders on these copycat sites for products that will never arrive.
Buy from trusted sites with retailers you know. Consumers are exposed to hundreds of retailer websites, and some promote products that may not meet their expectations by offering a low-quality version of the advertised item. Some consumers also reported receiving no product at all. Be careful on trusted sites that host items for third-party sellers.
Beware of third-party vendors. If you are redirected from a trusted site to a third-party site, read the seller’s policies, review ratings, read consumer reviews, and most importantly, research the internet thoroughly before making your purchase. Trusted retailers that host third-party sellers do not guarantee their sales, so you may end up with an inferior product or no product at all when you take the risk and buy from an unknown third-party vendor.
Do your research if you want to try a new site or a new retailer. Doing a broad search on the Internet will provide you with important reviews from other customers.
Learn how to spot a fake review. A red flag to look for is one-sided reviews without details. Real reviews often reflect balanced, descriptive and subjective customer experiences. Also look for several very similar reviews posted during the same time period. This is a sign that the reviewers are copying information or were all written by the same person.
Read the product specifications. Online marketing is designed to get you to buy, so it’s important to understand the product you’re buying and the terms of sale to ensure you get what you want.
Keep track of your packages. Package tracking and delivery scams are
common during the holidays. Review your package’s tracking information and immediately note any issues through the retailer’s websites.
Beware of phishing attempts. Another common scam this time of year is scammers who use phishing emails and text messages to impersonate delivery companies, banking and credit card companies and other big retailers, which often include links to sites attempting to steal your information. Always open a browser and type in the company’s website address yourself instead of clicking a link in an email or text message.
Check the website’s encryption. Before entering your credit card information, ensure that the website address begins with “https” and that there is a closed padlock on the website address bar or a key symbol uninterrupted in the lower part of your window.
Do not keep the credit card on file for future purchases. Provide your credit card number each time you make a purchase.
Designate a credit card and email address for online purchases. This will allow easy review of purchases and provide protection in the event of a dispute.