BBB Offers Online Shopping Tips

Today is Cyber Monday, the big day for shopping online for the holidays.

With many people shopping online, the Better Business Bureau is offering a number of tips to make sure that the online shopping experience is a safe one.

Northeast Georgia Better Business Bureau President Fred Elsberry said that the most important thing is to make sure that an online purchase is secure.

“There are two ways you can do that,” said Elsberry. “In the URL of the website address, look for ‘https’ and that ‘s’ signifies that it is a secure site. Then, when you go to the page where you pay, in the lower left hand corner, look for the lock we have become familiar with that closes when you close the transaction.”

Elsberry also recommended making sure the computer is up-to-date on anti-virus protection and similar programs and shopping on trustworthy websites.

He did say that for shopping online, it can often be best to use a credit card.

“To use a credit card, you can dispute the charge,” said Elsberry. “If you do not receive an item, it also protects you against identity theft because most card-holding companies have a zero liability policy, so that if somebody steals your money, they are not going to be able to take advantage of you.”

To that end, Elsberry said people should check credit card statements often to be on the lookout for suspicious activity and keep documentation of all orders made online with the credit card.

He said that in general, online shoppers should know their rights.

“When you order online, they will either promise a ship date or if none is promised, federal law requires that they deliver within 30 days,” said Elsberry. “If they do not, then you are probably in a position to cancel the order and demand a refund.”

Other tips include watching out for “phishing” e-mails that attempt to lure the buyer into revealing financial information, as well as protecting personal information, and reading a site’s privacy policy.

Finally, Elsberry said to watch out for things that sound too good to be true.

“This really relates to those e-mails you get, unsolicited e-mails, about hot electronic items if you go to this site,” said Elsberry. “Those are probably too good to be true.”

For more tips and advice, go online to