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Peak holiday shopping season draws online safety tips from Florida officials * Florida

As Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber ​​Monday approached, Florida leaders shared tips on how to protect your privacy and save money when shopping online.

“Online shopping remains a convenient way for consumers to compare products and find bargains this winter shopping season,” said Nikki Fried, Commissioner for Agriculture and Consumer Services. “However, consumers must be on the lookout for potential fraud to protect their personal and financial information. The holidays can be stressful enough without your data being stolen. These simple steps can help any Floridian spend less time worrying and more time celebrating with loved ones.”

Before you click Place Order, follow these tips to protect your privacy and save money when you shop:

  • Make sure the site is secure. Before entering your payment information, make sure the website address begins with “https”. The “s” stands for “secure” and means that your data is encrypted before transmission.

  • Decide how you want to pay. Credit cards offer you a level of protection that other payment methods may not offer. If there is a problem, the law allows you to dispute charges and temporarily withhold payment while your dispute is investigated. Some companies limit your liability to $50 if someone uses your card without your permission. Others can waive the fees altogether.

  • Plan ahead by setting a budget. Ask yourself how much you should spend and factor shipping costs into your budget.

  • Determine what is most important to you about the item you are purchasing. What are the must-have features versus those that are just nice to have?

  • Take a few minutes to compare products. Type the product name into a search engine along with words like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” Read online reviews from other people who bought the item or product experts. Look for feedback on how the product works and its overall quality.

  • Look for reviews about the company selling the product. Read information about the company’s reputation and customer service. Don’t rely on just one source of information.

  • Check the total cost of the product. Check shopping comparison sites to compare the price of the product on different shopping sites. Keep in mind that shipping costs and other additional costs may not be included in the listed price.

  • Look for online coupon codes. Search for the merchant’s name using terms like “coupons,” “discounts,” or “free shipping.”

  • Check out the terms of the deal. Check when you receive your order. The law requires sellers to ship the item within 30 days of the sale. Can you get a refund if you need to return the item and who pays for return postage? Is there a redemption fee?

If you have a problem with an online purchase or payment, first try to resolve the issue directly with the seller. If you cannot find a solution, file a complaint at or call 1-800-HELP-FLA or 1-800-FL-AYUDA (for Spanish speakers).

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