How To Not Get Ripped Off Online

How To Not Get Ripped Off Online

monitoring computer use{Guest Post provided by Becky W} For frugal, super busy moms shopping online is a no-brainer. You can save a bundle—not to mention the convenience of virtual stores open 24/7 and endless options to choose from. Every week I point you to sales, rock bottom prices and valuable coupon codes like Amazon’s Lighting Deals, or these great Karmaloop coupons. These deals and steals can help you make ends meet, save money, get out of debt, or just feel the satisfaction of scoring a great deal.

While the Internet is a fantastic place to shop, it’s also a virtual landmine for naïve shoppers. If you aren’t careful you can become the victim of identity theft, fraud or some other scam. Or, you might inadvertently order a substandard product or overpay for something.

Here are some important tips to help you keep from getting ripped off online:

 

Avoid Fraud

 

To avoid fraud, never purchase products from on online retailer without using a credit card that offers fraud protection or a PayPal account. Print or save your online receipts and confirmations, and meticulously review your bank statements for unauthorized charges. If you shop online regularly, it’s a good idea toconsider an identity theft monitoring service.

Take the time to read the fine print before checking the “I agree” check box so you don’t inadvertently get a lot more than you bargained for. For example, you might snag a one year magazine subscription for $3.99, but the fine print includes an auto-renewal at $44.00 a year. Or, you’ll get a “free” product by paying shipping only, but then be locked into large monthly payments, or auto delivery.

Also, always review the merchant’s policies for returns, replacement and guarantees before buying. Review the company’s privacy policies—remember your personal information may be sold by other retailers so be sure to look for an opt-out option.

 

Look for the best prices

Don’t jump on a slashed price too quickly. Remember, online marketing is very sophisticated and includes inflated mark-ups so they can then show “slashed prices,” and other gimmicks to get you to purchase quickly and without doing your research.

One advantage of shopping online is the ability to price shop without driving around, wasting time and gas, to three or four different stores. In fact, shopping online you can literally price shop worldwide. Take the time to make sure you are getting the best price available. And, be sure to compare apples-to-apples—include shipping and processing charges in your price comparison.

Never purchase anything online without first searching for promo codes or online coupons. Some of my personal favorites are Khols free shipping offers and 20% off at Sports Authority coupons. Where ever you shop you’re likely to find coupon codes to help you net the best possible price. Use deal aggregate sites, for example search coupon deals at NerdWallet, or simply do a quick Google search to find coupons and codes.

 

Read reviews

One of your best defenses when shopping online are buyer reviews. While you cannot touch and feel the product before you purchase it to look at the quality, other buyers have. Look at the product’s overall rating and then read a variety of reviews. Even if you are buying from a site with only a few reviews, research the product on Amazon and check the extensive reviews there.

When purchasing from an online auction site like eBay, don’t purchase from sellers without extensive positive reviews—a track record of accurately representing their products in their auction descriptions, and shipping them as promised. Shop only from reputable, well established sellers, and of course use PayPal for additional buyer protections.

Go with your gut

Remember: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

Use your common sense when shopping online. If a website looks sketchy or unprofessional it’s not worth the risk. Unless you are shopping for a specialty item try to stick to sites like Amazon that have a reputation for excellent customer service and good prices. Or, look for your favorite brick-and-mortar stores online like Khols, Best Buy, Target, and Toys-R-Us.

Shopping online is a great way to save time, money and hassle—if you are a saavy shopper who knows how to protect yourself and where to get the best deals. Happy shopping!>

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