“Buyer Beware!” is a more important warning than ever before if you’re buying phones, computers, tablets and other electronic devices online. We all like online bargains, but the looting that took place as peaceful demonstrations fell apart will put a lot of stolen goods on the market. It’s a fact of life – not a political or social statement. Here’s what you need to know.
First, mobile phones, tablets and computers have built-in tracking. If the merchant from whom the devices were stolen reports the identifying information to the manufacturer, a message can be displayed as soon as the device is connected to any kind of network. It will tell the user that the device is stolen and cannot be put into service.
Second, in all likelihood, if you bought tainted goods on the internet, you bought it from a less-than-reputable seller, which means you won’t get any support from the manufacturer or a cellular network carrier. We can’t say for sure, but a manufacturer or merchant who knows where a stolen device is could initiate action to get it back.
Third, if you used a credit card, your account information is now in the hands of people who can monetize it at some point.
In short, you’ll have no consumer protection, and you could have a lot of liabilities. That puts the onus squarely on you to make sure you visit only legitimate merchant websites and buy from legitimate sellers.
Everyone can expect to be bombarded with offers from sellers, legitimate or not. We’ve been bombarded for years. Some offers come through phishing expeditions, which can look legitimate but may have one slight change from a seller that might be familiar to you. You might see an ad on a website, and that can be a tough call. Huge businesses have been built – legitimately – by tracking your browsing history and then sending you ads. It’s easy for a “fencing” operation to set up a website that has every appearance of legitimacy.
Our advice is simple. Only click on links that you are 100 percent sure are legitimate websites. Only buy electronics from legitimate sources. They may be well-known retailers as well as vendors vetted and supported by services such as Amazon. You can be reasonably assured you are getting a legitimate product and that your credit card information will be properly protected. And if your product is defective or not what you expected, you should be able to exchange or return it within a clearly stated policy.
If you have any questions about a product you’re shopping for, don’t hesitate to ask us about its properties or things to look for in a seller. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us if you have any questions.