Attorney General Alerts

    Shop Safely Online


    November 16, 2016

    As temperatures cool down, Arkansans are beginning to think about the holidays and shopping for family and friends, with many planning to take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. The National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that consumers plan to split much of their shopping between online, department stores and discount stores.

    Holiday sales reportedly increased more than 3 percent in 2015, to $626.1 billion. And a recent NRF survey reports that consumers plan to spend nearly $600 on gifts and more than $200 on food, decorations, flowers and greeting cards this year.

    Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to encourage caution while shopping online.

    “Many Arkansans plan and save all year for the holiday season,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But a simple mistake while shopping online could cause a lot of unnecessary heartache. There are ways to protect your money and identity, while still taking advantage of great deals online.”

    Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help keep consumers safe while shopping online:

    • Look for the “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar, and the phrase “https” in the URL to be sure information is secure 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.
    • Check the online merchant’s privacy policy before providing any personal financial information and determine how the information will be used or shared with others. Some websites’ disclosures are easier to find than others — look at the bottom of the home page, on order forms or in the “About” or “FAQs” sections of a site.
    • Read and understand 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 and consumer liability for theft is limited so long as consumers promptly notify the bank or credit card issuer. Additionally, 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 email important information about purchases.
    • Promptly and thoroughly review monthly credit card and bank statements for any errors or unauthorized purchases. 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.

    Also, research companies before finalizing the online purchase to ensure it is a credible merchant, and check the anticipated delivery date to make sure it will be delivered before in time for the holidays.

    For more information about consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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