Online Holiday Shopping Requires Extra Precautions

SPRINGFIELD — In today’s high-tech world, many people do holiday shopping online to save time, money and effort. However, shoppers using the Internet should be cautious according to David Burton, county engagement specialist and community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Get the details. Confirm the phone numbers and physical addresses of online vendors in case you need to contact them. Be cautious of pop-up messages and links within e-mail messages. “Read descriptions of products and calculate costs, including shipping and handling, before deciding which site offers the best buy,” said Burton.

Pay by credit card. An advantage of using a credit card is that you have additional protection under the Fair Credit Billing Act if you have problems. “Sellers are required to ship items as promised or within 30 days after the order date if no specific date is promised,” said Burton.

Keep records. Be sure to save records of your online transactions, including the product description, price, online receipt, and copies of any email correspondence between you and the seller. “Review your credit card statements thoroughly and check for any unauthorized charges,” said Burton. “I speak from experience on this one.”

Protect your information. Financial or personal information like your credit card, checking account, or Social Security numbers should not be sent via email because this is not a secure method of transmitting information. “If you initiate a transaction through a company’s website, check to see if the website is secure,” said Burton.

For more information, visit the OnguardOnline website, http://OnGuardOnline.gov.

University of Missouri Extension programs focus on the high-priority needs of Missourians to improve lives, communities and economies by providing relevant, responsive and reliable educational solutions. MU Extension programs are open to all. More information on this topic is available online at http://extension.missouri.edu.