The Better Business Bureau offers advice on Cyber Monday

Tens of millions of shoppers are planning to point and click from the comfort of their office or living room. It’s Cyber Monday, what promises to be the busiest online shopping day of the year.

About 30 percent of consumers planned to do some online shopping . Tom Stephens from the Better Business Bureau says there are plenty of good deals to be had for sure, but wants consumers to be careful. First, he says know you’re on a real website. He says this time of year, fake sites pop up. “The first thing to look for is the price of an item,” he said. “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is, so it’s either a site that’s going to ship you an inferior copy of whatever it is you’re trying to buy…or it’s going to take your money and ship you nothing at all because it’s just a complete scam and again, those usually pop up this time of year.”

The Better Business Bureau also says there’s a chance you might end up on a foreign merchant’s site but that foreign merchant is not subject to the same rules as U.S merchants especially in terms of fake advertising. “I would advise people to do business only with companies they recognize or have done business with before online,” said Stephens. “That’s to make sure you’re going to get what you ordered and it’s what you think it is and if it’s a familiar business, you’re going to know whether they have a return policy and a warranty.”

He also suggests making sure you’re on a secure site before you offer any credit card information. The easiest way to figure that out is to check the web address and see if there is a “s” in the http address. “If it doesn’t has the ‘s’ in the address, it’s not secure and if someone happens to intercept your transaction, then they have your credit card information,” says Stephens.

The BBB also says look for the little padlock (usually on the top of the website) and click on the lock to see more about the site’s safety certificate.

Finally, Stephens says if you’re not familiar with a site, you can search a site called “Who is” (I found it easily in Google). This tells you about the site, i.e. company and history which includes how long it has been in existence. If they’re advertising that it’s the best online store for the past five years but you see that the website was set up last Thursday, then you know there is an issue there and you should probably run and hide from that website.” says Stephens.

In the end, he says it’s about being careful and getting a good deal but not being taken by anyone. He says one thing to always remember is if you are looking for a popular item that seems to be in short supply and you find a website that says it has all kinds of these items for 90 percent less than other merchants, that should be a red flag.

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