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“Cyber Monday” refers to the Monday after “Black Friday” when online retailers take advantage of heavy website traffic to put up sales and discounts. Doing business online comes with its own set of risks to consumers due to the anonymity of the Internet, so shoppers should keep these tips in mind as they browse online.

  • Do whatever you can to make sure that you’re doing business with a reliable merchant. If possible, try to only shop online from trusted merchant. If you haven’t heard of an online merchant, do research! If other people have had negative experiences doing business with them, or if you can’t find any information about them at all, it may be a good idea to shop elsewhere.
  • Always look at customer reviews before buying a product. It’s harder to discern the quality of a product online than in a store where you can see it in person, so customer reviews are the best way to know if you’re going to get your money’s worth.
  • Be careful of who you give your personal information to. Scammers may pretend to be selling you something online in order to steal your personal information. Scams should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission here, and to the Attorney General’s Office at (617) 727-8400. Aside from scammers, legitimate businesses can still sell your information to others for marketing and advertising purposes. It’s important to review privacy policies before you make any online purchase so that you know what information the merchant is collecting about you and what they will do with it.

Remember that while online shopping carries a lot of its own risks, it’s still a useful way to see a fuller selection and potentially save a lot of money compared to shopping in a store. As is the case with all business transactions, it’s a good idea to go in with as much information and savvy as possible.

The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education, and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly. The Consumer Hotline can be reached at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757 for further questions Monday through Friday from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer.

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