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Avoiding Fraud Through Safe Shopping
by: Jeff Mueller
Online fraud is an increasing problem that can be avoided. Every year more and more people shop online, and every year seems to bring more ways to trick unsuspecting buyers. This report was written to help protect you as a consumer.

Following the guidelines set in this report will protect you from most types of online fraud, and help you recover in the event that you are taken advantage of.

Before You Buy
Before you buy anything online, review the store's refund policy. Make sure they will accept returns on defective or wrong items. Also, see how long the return period is, usually, it is 30 days.

Review the store's privacy policy. You want to know that your information is being handled responsibly before giving it to anyone.

During Check Out
Plastic or plastic? During the checkout process you will be given a few payment options. Of these, you will probably see credit or charge cards. As you know, if someone accepts credit cards, they also accept debit cards. Debit cards are not the same when it comes to limiting your liability for fraudulent use. Debit cards are fine for most things, but not online purchasing.

Credit or charge cards are the ideal way to pay online. If you pay by credit or charge card online, your transaction is protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Under this law, you have the right to dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor is investigating the disputed charges. In the event of unauthorized use of your credit or charge card, you generally would only be held liable for $50 worth of the charges.

Some credit companies even offer an online shopping guarantee that ensures you will not be held responsible for any unauthorized charges made online, and some may provide additional warranty, return and/or purchase protection benefits.

Double check everything. Make sure your billing, contact, and email addresses are correct and yours. You don't want your purchases delivered to someone else.

Always ensure that the checkout is being completed on a secure server. You can tell if a server is a secure server by the web address, it should begin with an https://. In addition, the bottom of your browser should contain a padlock image.

After the purchase
Always keep a record. You should receive a receipt or invoice after your payment. If you do not, politely request one from the vendor.

Be sure to save this receipt, you will need it as a proof of purchase if the item is defective and needs to be returned, or was never received.

Ongoing Precautions
You should regularly check your credit card and bank statements for any unauthorized payments. If you notice anything that you did not authorize, be sure to notify your credit card company or bank immediately.

Some malicious applications will rest on your computer, and send your private information to someone else. This is a common cause of identity theft. For this reasons, you should always run the latest version of your antivirus program with the most recently updated databases. You should also run spyware removal programs regularly.

Following the guidelines outlined in this report should lead to a satisfying online experience. The only identity theft victims are people that don't know or follow safe shopping practices.


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