Tech Tuesday #8: Buying Safely Online

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TechTuesdays from Charland Technology

Jeanne from Fitchburg asks, “How do I buy stuff online without getting scammed?”

There’s one absolutely foolproof way to NOT get scammed with a purchase: Don’t buy anything.

Failing that, there are a few quick and easy tips:

  1. Use a credit card, NOT a debit card (or PayPal, etc). Even when playing with well-known vendors it’s always best to play with someone else’s money. If you buy something that isn’t as advertised (or a big company charges you twice for that new platinum-plated toaster oven), it’s a world of difference. The debit card holder sees their money taken immediately…calls the merchant, calls the bank, and after a couple days the errant money finds its way back into its proper place. The credit card holder calls the bank, fills out a form, and the problem goes away. I’m not a big fan of credit cards and consumer debt, but this is why credit cards are essential in 2012.
  2. Use only well-know vendors or stores. Yes, google shopping says that has the same toaster for 20% less than anywhere else, but is it worth it? If anything in this post is news to you….stick with Amazon,, and other stores where you can return online purchases in-store.

    Elite <em>Platinum</em> 23 Liter <em>Toaster Oven</em>

  3. Factor in shipping costs. You can buy an aftermarket front bumper cover for a 2006 Subaru from for $81. The tiny print below says, “+ $70.01 shipping.” One can buy the same bumper from a local auto parts store for $92 including tax
  4. There’s more to this than money, though. If you know what you want, it only makes sense to buy online from a reputable vendor and save money. There are times when we don’t really KNOW what we want/need. Perfect opportunity to get into “buy local” mode and go to a store to take advantage of their knowledge…and buy something! It is pretty lame to get the info from a local expert then go home and order from Amazon to save 5%.
  5. Make sure your computer is updated, with antivirus software, and stop to think before clicking the “Buy Now” button.

Got questions? Send them to CharlandTech via Facebook, post as a comment on this article, Tweet ‘em to @gregc00 or @CharlandTech, or find another creative way to get them to us.

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