The holiday shopping season is underway, with retailers competing to provide the best deals and lowest prices to Arkansans. Many consumers are taking advantage of deals that an increasing number of retailers are offering online.
According to research by Wipro Digital, 61 percent of people in the U.S. reported doing more than half their 2014 holiday shopping online. This is a significant increase from 2013, when only 36 percent of consumers reported doing the majority of their shopping online. The trend is set to continue with the 2015 holiday season.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released today’s consumer alert to encourage caution while shopping online.
“With Christmas just a few weeks away, our schedules continue to fill up, and Arkansans are going online to finish their lists,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But shoppers must be cautious when making these purchases to protect financial information. Hackers are always looking for new ways to gain access to credit card numbers and online user information.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help keep consumers safe while shopping online:
- Use a secure browser — software that encrypts or scrambles the purchase information you send over the Internet — to help guard the security of your information as it is transmitted to a website. Be sure your browser has the most up-to-date encryption capabilities by using the latest version available from the manufacturer.
- Read and understand the refund and shipping policies before you make your purchase.
- Pay by credit card, which is the most secure payment method. Under federal law, charges can be disputed. Many credit card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the purchaser pays nothing if their credit card is stolen and used to make unauthorized purchases.
- Keep personal information private. Do not disclose personal information – address, telephone number, Social Security number, bank account number or email address – unless you know who is collecting the information, why they are collecting it and how they will use it.
- Be cautious when buying gifts from an online auction. Understand how the auction works and check out the seller’s reputation before bidding. Always ask about terms of delivery and return options. Never wire money for the purchase; use some other form of payment.
- Keep records of online transactions and check for emails from merchants while doing business. Merchants may send important information about purchases.
- Review monthly credit card and bank statements for any errors or unauthorized purchases promptly and thoroughly. Notify the credit or debit card issuer immediately if a card or checkbook is lost or stolen or if you suspect someone is using your accounts without your permission.
During the holiday season, there are many great deals; however, do thorough research on companies and products before finalizing each online purchase. And check the anticipated delivery date to make sure it will be delivered before the holidays.
For more information on identity theft, ways to protect your money and tips to avoid scams and other consumer related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.