Making online purchases during Black Friday is a great idea, especially if you don’t have a car or hate fighting crowds — but if you’re not careful, there are shopping mistakes you can make that are just as bad. In fact, there are plenty of online shopping pitfalls that many people make during the holidays. By avoiding them, you’ll improve your chances of having a happy holiday season this year. Here are some of the most common ones:
Buying From an Unknown Source
If you are looking for that perfect gift for someone online and you can’t find it anywhere else, you might be tempted to try a new store. But you might be taken for a ride. According to 360 Financial Literacy, you should take extra precautions whenever you’re buying from a company for the first time. For example, make sure the company has a valid phone number and address. You can also send an inquiring email to their customer service contact to see how quickly they respond.
Not Tracking Your Holiday Spending
Even the most disciplined shoppers can occasionally get caught up in the holiday spirit, which is why it’s important to ensure you make a list and stick to a budget.
Following Questionable Email Links
Never click on the links that come in unsolicited emails, even if they’re from supposedly trustworthy retailers because they probably aren’t. Usually, they’re so-called phishing scams that work by sending you to a phony website that collects personal information for the sole purpose of stealing critical financial data — or even your identity. One way to avoid phishing scams is to only use links that are provided by a trusted search engine. It’s a lot safer to go hunting for the deals before they go to you. You can scope out sites like BFAds to find legit Black Friday deals.
Shopping at Unsecured Sites
One clue regarding a website’s security can be gleaned by checking company’s website address. Look to see if it has a secure URLs that start with “https” (instead of “http”). Also look for a padlock icon on your browser’s address bar; the icon indicates that the website is using security encryption. And be sure to review retailer privacy policies to discover how they protect your information.
Not Reading the Feedback
When it comes to vetting any business, there’s nothing better than positive word-of-mouth. So, whenever possible, check out reviews and feedback offered from previous buyers. While it’s true that many sites such as eBay offer buyers’ protection, it’s a remedy that often takes time a lot of time. Be sure to consider all of the reviews in their totality; don’t let a few bad reviews necessarily dissuade you from shopping at a merchant if, say, 97% of the remaining feedback is otherwise positive.
Skipping the Fine Print
When making any online purchase, it’s important to read everything that the website says about the item. At a minimum, be sure you understand what you’re buying, the item price, shipping charges, and the return policy. Otherwise you may find that you’re not getting the deal you think you are.
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