Category Archives: Shopping

Online Shopping Safety Tips

Using Public Wi-fi

“If you are shopping on your phone or computer and using an unknown WiFi connection, save the purchases for later. Don’t enter any personal information such as name, address, or credit card number until you are on a secure and known connection.” – Loki Labs, www.lokilabs.io

Visiting a New Website

“Check the seller’s customer satisfaction ratings. Review other user’s comments and check out the seller’s rating on sites like Google Shopping. Low “star” ratings may provide a red flag that cautions you to find a more reputable seller.” – Diverse Concepts, www.dciits.com“Check the Better Business Bureau website to see if there are a large number of complaints about the seller. https://www.bbb.org/greater-maryland/” – Diverse Concepts, www.dciits.com

“Go directly to the seller’s site rather than clicking a “coupon” link that was sent to you by an unknown source. Scammers can often use a tactic called cross-site scripting to craft a hyperlink that appears to be the actual merchant site but actually relays your credit card information to the scammer when you put your payment information into the payment web form. Unless you can verify that a coupon came from the actual vendor’s site to which you have already subscribed, it’s best to avoid random coupons with unknown origins.” – Diverse Concepts, www.dciits.com

“Find out the seller’s physical address. If the merchant only has a P.O. box listed, then that may be a red flag. If his address is 1234 in a van down by the river, you may consider shopping elsewhere.” – Diverse Concepts, www.dciits.com

“Check the seller’s privacy policy. While we might not think about it, some sellers resell our personal information, buying preferences, and other data to market research companies, telemarketers, and spammers. Read carefully and always make sure that you are opting-out and not opting-in when asked whether you want to have your information shared with “3rd parties” (unless you like a lot of spam in your e-mail). You may also want to obtain a separate e-mail account to use while shopping online to avoid clogging up your personal e-mail box with the barrage of sale ads and other junk mail that is frequently sent out.” – Diverse Concepts, www.dciits.com

“If you’re buying something on a new website and they want you to sign up for an account, use a new password. Never use the same passwords for shopping sites as you do for anything else, such as email, bank logins, etc. (It’s a good idea to use a different password for every site you go to but this is especially important.) Even if the company you’re purchasing from is legitimate, you don’t know who might have access to their database now or in the future.” – Loki Labs, www.lokilabs.io

Resources:

Shopping for airfare deals | Consumer Information


You want the best deal for your next flight, but the choices can be overwhelming. Will you book directly on an airline’s website, or buy through a site that lets you compare costs across multiple airlines? These tips will help you weigh your options and avoid surprises you didn’t bargain for.

On cost comparison sites, what seem like apples-to-apples comparisons may not be – if baggage or other fees aren’t included. Cost comparison sites can also charge you more than the airline’s fees for services like changing or canceling a flight. When you make a reservation for a flight that is at least a week away, the airline must allow you to cancel for free within the first 24 hours after booking, but you could still be charged if you didn’t book directly with the airline.

Having a reservation is not the same as having a ticket. Normally, you make your reservation and then the airline issues a ticket, but things can go wrong. We’ve heard from people who used unfamiliar booking sites and learned at the airport that they did not have a ticket to fly. People also have told us that small errors like misspelled passenger names caused big headaches. Some people had to pay fees to fix mistakes, and some even missed their flights.

If you’re thinking of using an unfamiliar booking site to reserve tickets, first look for reviews and ratings of the site to make sure it’s reputable. You can search the site’s name with words like “complaint,” “review,” or “scam.”

Also:

  • consider fees as you comparison shop, and take change and cancelation policies into account
  • check cost comparison and airline sites to find the best overall deal, and keep in mind that some airlines only book directly
  • confirm directly with the airline well before the day of your flight that you have a ticket and everything is in order

Source

What’s affiliate marketing? Should I care?

by Rosario Méndez

Many of the ads you see online are created by marketers who are paid each time you click on their ad. And if that click takes you to a website where you sign up to try a product or you make a purchase, the marketer may get paid even more. These are affiliate marketers. They are hired by the owner of the product to promote it on social media, on websites, and through email. Sometimes networks of affiliate marketers negotiate the rate marketers will get paid per click, per sign-up to try the product, and per purchase. Everyone from the merchant to the affiliate marketers gets a cut. And all these people may be tracking you, too, just from that one first click.

Affiliate marketing is a good way to promote a product or service as long as the ad is truthful. The problem is that some dishonest affiliate marketers put out ads with exaggerated claims or misleading information to get people to click. They may say anything to get you to click on their ad because they have an incentive – getting paid. Check out the infographic we created to explain this.

Sometimes deceptive ads could be bait for a scam. Take, for example, a low-cost trial scam that the FTC stopped recently. People who clicked on ads placed by affiliate marketers for a “free” trial ended up on a website that offered the product trial for $1.03. That amount is not much, but it’s not free. In fact, people who bought the trial for $1.03 ended up being charged almost $200 monthly for a second product they didn’t even want. We explained what happened in this infographic.

So, the next time you see an online ad, pause before clicking. Ask yourself:

  • How do I know who’s truly behind the ad?
  • Do I know if they’re being truthful? Is someone being paid to get me to click?
  • Who is tracking me when I click on the ad? And who is getting that information about me?

And if the ad says one price, but when you click on it you land on a website that says something else, you may have landed on a scam. No matter what, check your bills to be sure you’re not being scammed.

Source

A costly low-cost trial offer

by Rosario Méndez

You’ve probably seen online ads with offers to let you try a product – or a service – for a very low cost, or even for free. Sometimes they’re tempting: I mean, who doesn’t want whiter teeth for a dollar plus shipping? Until the great deal turns into a rip-off. That’s what the FTC says happened in a case it announced today.

The defendants sold tooth-whitening products under various names, and hired other companies to help them market the products. These affiliate marketers created online surveys, as well as ads for free or low-cost trials – all to drive people to the product’s website. What happens next is so complicated that we created an infographic to explain it.

In short, once people ended up on the product’s website, they filled in their info, put in their credit card number, and clicked “Complete Checkout.” When people clicked this button they not only got the free trial of the one product, but were actually agreeing to monthly shipments of the product at a cost of $94.31 each month.

Next, another screen came up and people were asked to click “Complete Checkout” again. But the second screen wasn’t a confirmation screen for the trial of the product. Instead, by clicking this button people were actually agreeing to monthly shipments of a second product. So, what started as a $1.03 (plus shipping) trial of one product wound up being an unexpected two products at a very unexpected $94.31 each – for a total monthly charge of $188.96 plus shipping.

Trial offers can be tricky – and there is often a catch. If you’re tempted, do some research first, and read the terms and conditions of the offer very closely. Sometimes, however, marketers might simply try to trick you – and it can be hard to spot. Look again at the infographic…would you have known what charges were about to hit your credit card? If you use your credit card for a low-cost trial offer, be sure to check your credit card statement closely. If you see charges you didn’t authorize, contact the company and your bank immediately. And then tell us about it.

Safe shopping: how to spot a trustworthy website

Here’s how to spot a legit online shopping website from a scam one:

1. Visit the About page or check out the Footer. A legit one provides complete information about the company.

Did you find all the necessary identification data? Is there contact information, such as the street or phone number?
If you only found a contact form, that’s a bad sign.
Another bad indicator is if they’re using a free public domain for their email address, such as Gmail or Yahoo, instead of the website’s domain.

2. Take your time and read the Terms and Conditions, Guarantee, Privacy and Return / Refund policies.

This way, you’ll stay informed and know your rights. You might discover hidden charges or services.
Check if the company offers shipping insurance or refunds, in case your package is lost or damaged.
You should also pay attention to discrepancies – does the website say one thing on a page and contradicts somewhere else?

3. Other red flags: poor grammar, misspellings, stolen photos, stock photos, low quality / resolution photos.
And, as a rule of thumb, if a product’s price is much lower than you can find on any other websites, you can bet it’s a scam.