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General Guide for Consumers

    Provided by www.eConsumer.gov, a 19 nation joint consumer project dedicated to protecting consumers from online fraud, regardless of the consumers location, in any country or continent.

bulletChecking out an online business
bulletDo you know what you are paying for?
bulletReturns and refunds conditions
bulletSecurity
bulletPayment System Protections
bulletPrivacy
bulletConfirmation
bulletWhat to do if something goes wrong

Checking out an online business
    It can be difficult judging the quality of a business from thousands of miles away. To determine a website’s reliability, you should rely on various factors, such as recommendations from family and friends or the site’s membership in a trustmark or trust seal program.

    Check the website for the business's contact details (physical address, including the country, and email or phone). If something goes wrong with your transaction, you will have the information you need to make contact with the business.

    Check that the business provides access to all its terms and conditions of sales - its refund policy, its security and privacy information.

    Check for any conditions that place limits on sales - for example: goods may not be available for delivery outside of the country; a certain quantity of goods may have to be ordered; or certain goods cannot be ordered by minors (wine sales for example).

    Although you may not experience any problems transacting online, take time to check for information on the website about the business's internal complaints procedure or mechanism.

Do you know what you are paying for?
    Check that the business supplies clear and accurate information about the goods or services it is offering for sale. This should include description, price information, any limitations on purchases (for example prohibits sales to minors or has minimum or maximum ordering conditions).

    Check that prices disclose what currency they are in.

    Check that the website discloses or alerts you to requirements to pay taxes or duty on any purchase.

    Postage/delivery costs should be itemized separately from the cost for the goods.

Returns and refunds conditions
    Check for information on the website about the business's policy on cancellations, returns or refunds. If you make a purchase, we suggest you print off a copy of the returns policy for future reference.

Security
    If paying for the goods or services on-line check to see if the business has secure payment facilities available. Check also whether the browser is secure and encrypts personal and payment information. For example, look for a closed padlock symbol or information stating that information is encrypted, or a website address that begins with "https:".

    If you send personal information (such as a credit card number) through an non-secure website, or even through electronic mail, someone may intercept that information and misuse it.

Payment System Protections
    As a payment cardholder, you may have some protections against the unauthorized use of your payment card. Many countries have laws that limit your liability for unauthorized transactions, and some card issuers provide additional protections voluntarily. These protections are implemented in a variety of ways. Click here to learn more about the types of protections that may be available to you.

Privacy
    All businesses will require information from you to process an order. Check for the business's privacy policy on their website. The statement should advise what information is collected, how it will be used, and provide you with an opportunity to refuse having your information sold or shared with others. You should think twice before doing business with a website that will not respect your privacy.

Confirmation
    Before concluding your transaction, a website should provide a confirmation page so that you can identify the goods or services you wish to purchase, identify and correct any errors, and modify your order if necessary.

    The website should also allow you to retain a complete record of the transaction after you have concluded it.

What to do if something goes wrong

Step 1:  Contact the business with the details of your complaint.
Step 2:  File a complaint with government consumer protection agencies
Step 3:  Try to resolve your complaint

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    Information in this page has been provided by www.eConsumer.gov, a 19 nation, joint consumer protection agency.

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Last Revised: July 12, 2006 12:27 AM,

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