The FBI has offered online shoppers these guidelines as they head into Cyber Monday:
• Purchase merchandise only from reputable sellers.
• Obtain a physical address and phone number rather than a Post Office box and call the seller to see if the number is correct and working.
• Send an e-mail to the seller to make sure the e-mail address is active.
• Check with the Better Business Bureau in the seller’s area.
• Inquire about returns and warranties.
• Be wary of overseas sellers, who may not be subject to recourse by U.S. law enforcement.
• Do not judge a company by its website. Impressive-looking websites can be set up quickly.
• Use a credit card for purchases rather than a money order or personal check if your credit card company allows you to dispute charges if something goes wrong.
• Shop around to educate yourself about the price range for the item; if the deal is too good to be true, it probably is not legitimate.
Of course, despite all your best efforts, sometimes fraud still occurs. If you are a victim of an Internet crime, you may report it at the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership of the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, at www.ic3.gov.
Stay safe and shop smart.
THE ISSUE Monday is the biggest online shopping day of the year. OUR VIEW Fraud is a major risk and shoppers should be on the lookout to protect themselves.