According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 12 percent of retail takes place online. Consumers had to change and adapt new strategies for getting groceries, stocking household items, refilling medicine, and buying gifts since the COVID-19 pandemic started. With an influx of online ordering and delivering, it has had a ripple affect on the logistics and shipping of orders, as well as the processing of returns if an order is just not right. This causes a backlog of deliveries for both the sending and returning of packages.
Before placing an order online, consider the following:
- Check out the retailer on BBB.org. Fraudsters are notorious for spoofing well-known brands and companies by creating lookalike websites and taking personal and financial information before the buyer realizes it’s not real. Carefully check out reviews on businesses that have pop up ads on social media sites. Manually type in the name of the merchant in the search bar and consider ordering from retailers that you’ve dealt with in the past.
- Before making a purchase, review the merchant’s return policies. Many have changed what they will or won’t accept in returns. These details are often found at the bottom of the web page and should be reviewed carefully. Also, make note of the shipping policies. While many businesses offer free shipping, notice the amount of time it takes for delivery or if expedited shipping is available for a nominal charge. Consider if the item being ordered is urgent or can wait a couple of days.
- Always use a credit card. If possible, avoid using a third party payment provider or prepaid card. Credit card companies are more likely to provide refunds in the event of theft, loss and other issues.
- Once the order is placed and a tracking number is provided, verify the tracking through the shipping company. The link to follow the package may not be active until the retailer creates the label and physically packages the order. Once the link is live, verify it through the shippers website.
- Beware of phishing. Phishing emails can look like a message from a well-known brand, but clicking on unfamiliar links can place you at risk for malware and/or identity theft. One popular scam claims to be from a package-delivery company with links to “tracking information” on an order you don’t remember making. Don’t click! Instead, verify from the merchant or the actual shipping vendor.
- See if there is an alternative pick up or delivery option. Many retailers are offering curbside pick up or in store pick up options with a price reduction for orders.
- Watch for your package arrival. Even though many people are working from home or have a camera/survelliance installed on the home, it’s still necessary to keep watch for the arrival of packages. Ask neighbors to pick up packages that are delivered if you aren’t home, or have them delivered at the workplace, if it’s allowed.
As the pandemic continues, learn more ways to stay smart while shopping online.
Concerns about shipping scams in Canada can be reported to the Canadian Post.