Voice of the consumer: Stay secure while shopping online

By  | 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - 11 News lead Call For Action investigator Katie Pelton pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

A lot of us are shopping online right now during the pandemic. If you are doing so, it’s important to make sure you keep your information safe.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, is sharing some pointers for online shopping. The first, plan a budget and ask how much you want to spend, including delivery cost. Second, consider the most important features you want in the product and take time to compare products. The FTC said you can type words into the search engine such as “review,” “complaint” or “scam” to research the item before you buy it. Check online reviews and read feedback from other customers. The FTC said you can use the same method to search for online coupon codes. Search the store’s name with terms such as “coupons”, “discounts” or “free shipping.”

The experts say before you make your purchase, check the terms of the deal, like how long it takes to get your order. The FTC said the law requires sellers to ship items within 30 days of the sale. You should also check to see how refunds work, in case you end up needing to return the item.

When it’s time to check out, consider how you’re going to pay for it. The FTC said paying by credit card gives you some protections that other methods might not have. For example, if there’s an issue, the law gives you the right to dispute charges and temporarily withhold your payment while it’s being investigated. The FTC also said if someone uses your credit card without your permission, some companies will cap your liability at $50 or waive the charges completely. Before you check out, check the website to make sure that it’s secure. Check to see if the URL, or website address, starts with https. The FTC said the s stands for secure and means your information is encrypted.

Make sure to keep records of your online transactions and save the receipts. If you have a problem with an online purchase, you should first reach out to the company to see if they can resolve the issue. If that doesn’t work, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftccomplaintassistant.gov

I also wanted to warn you that the Colorado Springs Police Department is seeing an uptick in scam calls right now. The caller claims to be an officer with CSPD and says you missed a court appearance and there’s a warrant for your arrest. They are asking people to pay a fine in cash or gift cards. The caller ID even says it’s from the police department. It’s not. The scammers can ‘spoof’ their phone number to make it look like they’re calling from any phone number. Don’t fall for it. Just hang up the phone. CSPD will never call you to demand money. If you want to verify an officer is trying to get a hold of you, reach out to CSPD directly by calling their non-emergency line at 719-444-7000.

Click here to read the original column on gazette.com.