Don't feel like facing the consumer crunch at the stores?
Community Bank is offering tips for those planning to shop online this season. And according to information from the National Retail Federation, many people are. The organization is projecting that more than half of Americans will make at least one holiday purchase on the web. But it turns out more fraudsters are also logging in time online.
So that the spirit of the season doesn't get ruined, Oregon-based Community Bank offers the following:
If you're not sure, don't share: Be sure you're familiar with the retailer's site before you provide your financial information. The Better Business Bureau has a list of about 70,000 safe websites at: www.bbb.org/online/consumer/default.aspx
Don't know if the site's secure? Look for the "s" in "https://" and a small padlock at the bottom of the screen before entering any payment information.
Know the terms of your purchase: Read the fine print. If it's not clear whether the product is returnable, who pays shipping, how long it will take to ship, the cost of shipping and more, consider making the purchase elsewhere.
Print & Save: Be sure to print the transaction receipt, order number, a customer service phone number and any other information you can just in case there's a problem with your order.
TMI: Don't divulge "too much information" to anyone on the Internet. If a website is asking for your bank account number, Social Security number or driver's license number, don't share it.
Know your rights: If you suspect you are a victim of fraud, contact the Federal Trade Commission at: www.ftc.gov/complaint. You can also contact the Washington Attorney General at: www.atg.wa.gov. Be sure to report it to the Better Business Bureau, too.
Of course, bank officials say, the risk of any online fraud can be avoided by shopping local.
Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8321.