Online shopping is very common today due to its convenience and our hectic schedules. The problem is, there are lots of companies out there just waiting for busy and unsuspecting people like you and I to fall for their scams. These are companies that offer a “free trial” of a product for just the cost of shipping, often charge you for the full price of the product (megabucks) if you do not cancel within a few days of ordering. Not a few days from receiving the product and giving it a try, but a few days after ordering, often before you even receive the product to try. They count on that discrepancy in the time factor, hoping you won’t have time or forget to cancel. If you do not cancel within the specified time frame, you will not have much luck getting your money back.
Other companies keep renewing your order automatically whether you need more products or not. Again, this should have been spelled out in the fine print of the original offer. Beware, it can be difficult to cancel the order completely or control when the products are shipped.
I had an incident last week where I had tried to book my son’s drivers test online. I went through the whole process, prepaid for his test with my visa, then received an email saying it could not be booked online. I was advised I would be refunded the payment. Three business days later I received a refund, but was charged ten dollars for a “cancellation fee.”
This list contains tips to (hopefully) prevent you from getting scammed when making online purchases:
- read the fine print of any offer. The details of the repeated/monthly payments are usually not visible front and center.
- if an offer seems too good to be true, it generally is
- consider a prepaid credit card for online purchases; refill it in small increments or just when you order something. This is easy to do online. That way the company you are purchasing from does not have your regular credit card number to make unauthorized, often repeated, transactions.
- keep a close eye on your credit card statement. This is easy to do these days with online accounts. This is especially important since companies often have different names for payments on credit cards, making it difficult to keep track of your purchases and payments.
- set up alerts on your credit card so you know immediately when they are used. This can easily be done online as well. Phone the fraud department of the credit card you use if you do not recognize a transaction. They are generally pretty good at giving you details of the transaction, but more importantly, will cancel your card if you suspect fraud.
- do your research before you purchase a product from a company you are unfamiliar with. Thankfully modern technology has supplied us with access to complaints, scams, and other information about companies.
- order from companies you know about or have heard about. Some companies, like Rodan & Fields, for example, have consultants/team members to purchase from. That way you have recourse if something goes wrong with your order or your payment.
Online shopping is certainly convenient, but be aware of who you are dealing with. Let me know of any tips you may have for online shopping safety.