Follow our simple tips to help ensure your online shopping experience will be safe and sound.
When browsing through virtual shopping aisles, be sure to use:
A secure password. When setting up an account at an online store, don't pick everyday words, family member names, or birthdates. Instead, use combinations of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Also, keep passwords unique from account to account.
A secure checkout and payment process. Make sure the online store uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which encrypts sensitive information. Look for the locked padlock icon at the bottom of your browser window to see if you're protected.
A little research goes a long way. Take the time to get to know the merchant or seller.
Learn about merchants. Look for reviews from other shoppers. Many e-commerce sites, including eBay, have feedback systems that feature comments and ratings from other buyers.
Ask questions. Get answers for an item from merchants before you make a purchase or offer. Good communications help ensure a smooth transaction.
Look for a refund or return policy. If a policy is not posted, ask the merchant if there is a time-limit to return an item and whether a full refund or merchandise credit is offered.
PayPal Verified Sellers. Check for membership status and look for Verified members who have been active for at least 60 days. Find out more with our Verification FAQ.
When you're considering a particular product, make sure you follow these cautions.
High demand/value items. Products that are hard to find or expensive – such as computers, jewelry, and electronics – require extra caution. Do additional checks and double-checks before making your purchase. This is especially important during the holidays.
Confirm authenticity. For collectibles, such as sports memorabilia, take steps to confirm that the item is authentic.
Common Warning Signs
Indicators that should immediately raise a red flag.
Delayed shipping. Do not overlook the advised delivery date.
Unsolicited offers. Receiving an unsolicited email from a seller with a similar product that you made an offer on could indicate possible fraud.
Too good to be true. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This includes sellers offering very low prices or large quantities of impossible-to-find items.