Avoiding the Internet Scrooge Featured

10:02am EDT July 22, 2002

Don't let unscrupulous Internet-based retailers ruin your holidays. So says the Better Business Bureau of Western Pennsylvania Inc.

The local membership organization offers the following tips to avoid those Internet Scrooges:

  • Do your homework - Become informed about the retailer before giving it personal information. Check its Uniform Resource Locator (URL) to determine if you're dealing with the correct company. Request a printed catalog with the retailer's permanent address. Keep in mind that just because a site looks sophisticated doesn't mean it's legitimate.

  • Think about security - If a site asks you to create a password-accessed account, don't use a password you've used for other accounts. And never e-mail credit information, including social security number or bank information. Such information shouldn't be needed to make a purchase.

  • Check the company's return policy - Complete customer satisfaction should apply to Internet sales as it should in any business. A return policy usually indicates the company at least is willing to stand behind its products.

  • Remember your rights - Just because a retailer is selling products by Internet doesn't preclude it from the same laws that protect consumers shopping by phone or mail. For instance, all transactions paid for with a credit card are subject to The Fair Credit Billing Act, under which you have the right to challenge incorrect charges or misrepresented merchandise.

For more information about satisfactory reports of local businesses, call the Better Business Bureau at (412) 456-2700.