Going, Going, Gone!
Now's your chance to win a solar-powered flashlight!
Continuing its campaign to teach consumers about online safety with a big dose of humor and creativity, the Federal Trade Commission has a quiz to test your knowledge about using Internet auctions. Some of the questions are downright simple (for example "True or False: The term Internet auction refers to the sale of computers online." That's false, of course). But that, along with the solar-powered flashlight, will get you laughing while you learn such things as not to use a wire transfer to pay for items won in online auctions. In fact, the quiz says you should be suspicious of someone who will only accept payment by wire. What's more, there's no recourse if you have a problem. Credit cards, on the other hand, are a good alternative, especially because the credit-card issuer will often refund the money if the product is never delivered or isn't what you ordered.
As for returns, sellers are not required by law to accept them. So, before you buy online (auction or no auction), you should check the seller's policy--and also find out who's responsible for postage.
In 2005, the FTC received 80,450 complaints about Internet auctions (most of the complaints are about the behavior of a particular seller or buyer, not about a particular Internet auction site). That represents about 12 percent of the total number of complaints the agency received last year, just behind the top complaint of identity theft.
The agency has a number of other games about online safety that prove learning can be fun. Check them out.
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