Safe Shopping This Holiday Season

In this final week before Christmas amid the frenzy of last minute shopping, this week’s blog focuses on making sure the last minute shopping is safe.

In a recent blog posted on the FTC website, Ari Lazarus, Consumer Education Specialist hit the highlights.

According to Lazarus, it pays to slow down and take some precautions when shopping online. The FTC has recently seen a spike of complaints about online retailers who didn’t deliver goods when they said they would, or didn’t deliver them at all. Late or no-show deliveries can make for less-than-jolly holidays. So here are a few tips to help make your online shopping merry and bright.

  • First a foremost, do your research. Use search engines to find out more about a product, brand or seller. Type the name into a search engine with words like “review” “complaint” or “scam.”
  • Definitely take the time to read reviews from other people, experts and columnists. They can give you an idea of how a product performs. Don’t put all your trust in any one review. Some reviews are based on testing by independent experts, others are from people who purchased the product. Both types can be useful.
  • Thoroughly read the terms of the deal–including delivery dates and refund policies. Can you return the item for a full refund if you’re not satisfied? Who pays the shipping costs or restocking fees? When will you get your order? Can you pay extra for faster delivery? Federal law requires sellers to ship items as promised or within 30 days after the order date if no specific date is promised. Many sites offer tracking options that let you see where your purchase is in the delivery chain, and when you can expect it to arrive.
  • Finally, make sure you have contact information to follow up if needed. Several sites that generated complaints to the FTC had little or no information on how to get in touch with the company. If you don’t see a phone number or email address, consider it a red flag and take your business elsewhere.

For more on best practices in identity theft prevention and secured destruction of confidential records, please visit

by Judith