COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has offered online shopping tips for consumers as retailers including Amazon and Walmart advertise extra online deals this week.
“We encourage consumers to research their purchases and take some common-sense steps to avoid problems,” Attorney General DeWine said. “If consumers have a problem they can’t resolve on their own, we encourage them to contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.”
Thus far in 2015, the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section has received more than 300 complaints involving online shopping. Commonly cited problems include billing disputes, misrepresentation, and refund or cancellation issues. Complaints generally are handled through the office’s informal dispute resolution process, in which specialists work with consumers and businesses to resolve complaints.
Attorney General DeWine offered consumers the following online shopping tips:
• Research deals. Compare prices among multiple retailers and websites. Also check reviews of products before making purchases.
• Look for exclusions and limitations. Important exclusions and limitations of a deal should be posted clearly in close proximity to the offer. Also check the return policy, and determine if you will have to pay shipping costs to return an item.
• Make sure you use a secure Internet connection. Before disclosing any financial or personal information online, look for the lock symbol and the “s” in “https” at the beginning of the website address. The “s” indicates a secure connection.
• Don’t use public Wi-Fi to make purchases or to check your bank account. Assume everyone can see what you are doing when you use a public network, and do not disclose logins, passwords, or credit card numbers when using an unsecure connection.
• Pay with credit, if possible. Using a credit card generally gives you stronger protections to dispute unauthorized charges. Other payment methods may not offer the same protections.
• Keep receipts. Keep a screenshot or other record detailing what you purchased, when you purchased it, and how much you paid for it. Maintaining this kind of documentation will help you dispute unauthorized charges if something goes wrong.
• If you are expecting a package delivery, check the shipping status. Find out when it will be delivered and pick it up promptly to ensure the package is not stolen from your doorstep.
• Check your credit card and bank statements. Look for any errors or unauthorized charges. If you find any problems, file a dispute with the seller, your credit card provider, and/or your bank as soon as possible.
Consumers who need help resolving a dispute about a purchase they made or those who believe they have been treated unfairly should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.