With the holiday shopping season approaching, the Federal Trade Commission offers consumers tips for shopping online.
The FTC urges consumers to create a holiday gift budget and stick to it.
Since gifts can come with many features, think about what features are really needed and then only buy those features.
Research online businesses before you buy. For example, use search engines for a company, along with terms like "complaint" or "scam" to find out more about it. Check out online company and product reputation and performance reviews.
Comparison shop and look for discount offers and coupons.
Remember online stores may differ as to product costs, associated fees and refund policies. For example, does a store charge a fee for return shipping or a restocking charge? The fine print matters when considering which product offers the best deal for your particular needs.
The agency notes it is generally best to pay online with a credit card to receive federal law protection. However, make sure that you use a secure checkout. As the FTC states, the payment site should start with https (the ‘s’ stands for secure) when you are checking out.
Keep good records, including online receipts.
For more, 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.