Tips for Online Shoppers

Know Your Merchant
Be familiar with the name and reputation of any web site at which you plan to shop. You can find helpful information about the credibility of online companies from news sources, directories, and certifications posted on the site, such as a WebAssured or Trust-e clickable "Seal."

Protect Your Privacy

Be aware that, typically, merchants collect information about their customers. It is your right to know exactly what information a merchant has compiled about you, how they intend to use it, and if it is their policy to share or sell it to others.

Credit Card Savvy
Before using a credit card for online purchases, verify that the page requesting your credit card information is secure (encrypted) so that prying eyes can't see what you enter. You can tell that a page is secure if the letters https:// - rather than http:// - precede the page's URL, if there is an unbroken key or padlock symbol located in the corner of the web browser, or by reviewing the page information function available as a pull-down menu item in most web browsers.


Buying from an individual on an auction site such as Ebay? Don't have a credit card or the seller doesn't accept it? Don't take a chance on giving out your money without getting what you paid for. Protect yourself by using an escrow service or alternative payment method such as or to make sure you're satisfied before the seller is paid.

Sound Shopping Is In the Details
Check for expected delivery dates, shipping and handling fees, warranties, return policies, and other important information before you spend a cent. Most reputable online stores offer a money-back guarantee and many will reimburse you for the cost of returning any items. Be sure the merchant's contact information is readily available in case you need assistance with questions, problems, or service.

Keep Up To Date Records
Make sure to print, or save electronically, any records related to your online transactions, including information regarding shipping dates, shipping and handling fees, and any other pertinent details of your transactions.

Know Your Rights
The same laws that protect you when you shop by phone or mail apply on the Internet. A company must ship your order within the time stated in its ads. If no time is promised, the company must ship the order within 30 days of receipt of order or give you an "option notice."

Who Can You Trust?
Many well-known companies are now online. You can check them out with WebAssured, or the local Attorney General and Better Business Bureau Chapter. Newer or lesser known companies may deserve every bit as much of your confidence, but probably aren't tracked by conventional offline resources because they are so new - that's where the WebAssured certification can be most helpful. Of course, you can also talk with friends who have shopped online for referrals and references.

He Who Hesitates Is Lost
Since holiday gifts are especially time-sensitive, we encourage consumers to act quickly when they do suspect a problem. Contact the merchant's customer service department as soon as you have concerns. If the merchant doesn't resolve your issue, don't hesitate to file a complaint with WebAssured. Over 80% of complaints filed with WebAssured get resolved within 48 hours or less, which could mean the difference between giving holiday gifts versus giving holiday IOUs...

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The Dot.Confidence Company

WebAssured is the world's first and most comprehensive online merchant certification and dispute resolution service. Since 1995, WebAssured has been increasing confidence in online purchasing through verification of sellers' high standards for security, privacy, integrity, and customer satisfaction.

Look for the WebAssured Seal of Assurance on member web sites and rest assured that what you see is what you get or your money back. It certifies that the merchant:

  • Delivers what they promise and promises only what they can deliver.
  • Deals honestly and fairly with customers.
  • Accurately represents themselves and what they sell.
  • Promptly responds to and resolves customer complaints.
  • Clearly discloses all policies, fees, terms and conditions associated with your purchase.
  • Honors your request regarding collection and use of your private information.
  • Takes appropriate measures to ensure the security of your transaction and financial data.
  • Is insured by our money-back guarantee.

If you've had a problem with any online purchase, we invite you to fill out a free complaint form at To date, this dispute resolution system has successfully resolved over 95% of complaints filed against member web sites, and 79% of complaints against non-members.

For more information on how WebAssured can help you enjoy a safe, rewarding shopping experience, check out these links: