The survey finds that roughly eight-in-ten Americans are now online shoppers: In other words, today nearly as many Americans have made purchases directly through social media platforms as had engaged in any type of online purchasing behavior 16 years ago. But even as a sizeable majority of Americans have joined the world of e-commerce, many still appreciate the benefits of brick-and-mortar stores. Of course, all things are often not equal — and a substantial share of the public says that price is often a far more important consideration than whether their purchases happen online or in physical stores.
Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name. Words like "refurbished," "vintage," or "close-out" may indicate that the product is in less-than-mint condition, while name-brand items with bargain basement prices could be counterfeits.
Know what it will cost. Check out websites that offer price comparisons and then compare "apples to apples. Do not send cash or money transfers under any circumstances.
Check out the terms of the deal, like refund policies and delivery dates. If you return it, who pays the shipping costs or restocking fees, and when you will get your order?
A Federal Trade Commission FTC rule requires sellers to ship items as promised or within 30 days after the order date if no specific date is promised. Pay by credit card. If you pay by credit or charge card online, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act.
Under this law, you can dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor investigates them. Print or save records of your online transactions, including the product description and price, the online receipt, and the emails you send and receive from the seller.
Email is not a secure method of transmitting financial information like your credit card, checking account, or Social Security number. Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some fraudulent sites have forged security icons.
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