The Federal Trade Commission provides consumers with tips for holiday shopping online.
The agency urges consumers to create a gift budget and stick to it.
Gifts can come with many additional features. Spend some time thinking about what features are really required and only buy those needed.
Research the businesses you are thinking of buying from. For example, use a search engine and type in the company’s name, with “terms like ‘complaint’ or ‘scam,’ to find out more about it.” Also, check out online company and product reputational and performance reviews.
Comparison shop and look for discount offers and coupons.
Online stores, like other stores, can differ as to product costs, associated fees and refund policies. Consider these factors when comparison shopping. For example, does a store charge a fee for return shipping or a restocking charge?
The agency notes it is generally best to pay online with a credit card to receive the protection available under federal law. However, ensure that you pay through a secure checkout. As the FTC notes, the payment site should start with https (the "s" stands for secure) when you’re checking out.
Keep good records, including online receipts.
For additional details see “Shopping Online This Holiday Season? FTC Offers Advice on Getting the Best Deal” (at www.ftc.gov).
See also “Comparing Products Online,” at www.onguardonline.gov/SmartShopper.
Opinions are solely the writer's. Joseph Pellicciotti is an I.U. Northwest faculty member and administrator. This article is for informational purposes only and not intended to be specific advice. Consult your professional advisor before taking action. Author does not endorse/guarantee content within websites.