Shopping online? 5 ways you can protect your purchases

The FTC says you need to protect yourself and your purchases from not only scammers but also the fine print.

Shopping online is convenient but having your time or money stolen is not. With so many people looking for last-minute deals during the back-to-school season, the Federal Trade Commission warns you need to do what you can to protect yourself and your purchases.

Here are five key things you can do:

  1. Check refund and return policies, especially on sale or clearance items. The FTC warns that sellers often have different -- and sometimes stricter -- refund and return policies for sale items, and dishonest sellers will use tricky disclosures and fine print to deny refund requests.
  2. Use a credit card for online purchases whenever possible. The FTC says credit cards offer the most protection against fraud -- including the right to dispute charges if there are problems with your purchase.
  3. Look for pre-checked boxes. It’s illegal, but some businesses use these hoping you won’t notice that you’re agreeing to be billed later. Uncheck the box if you don’t agree with what it says. If you want to change or cancel a subscription or automatic charges, sellers must give you an easy way to cancel.
  4. Once you’ve completed your purchase, save your receipts or confirmation emails. If something goes wrong, these will help you get your money back from the seller or file a dispute with your credit card company.
  5. Know your rights when it comes to shipping delays. If you bought something online and never got it, notify the seller as soon as possible. If the seller hasn’t shipped the item within the timeframe they promised when you bought it, the law says you can cancel the order for a full refund.