These days, more and more consumers are going online in search of coupons and deals. Whether you are looking for cheap flights, discounts on resorts or bargain merchandise, it pays to be wary. Unfortunately, numerous companies have positioned themselves to take advantage of consumer ignorance. Before you enter your credit card number, learn what to watch out for.

Wholesale Websites

Many websites claim to offer discount warehouse merchandise for pennies on the dollar. Usually, they attribute the low prices to minor flaws and oversupply. More often than not, these products come from Chinese manufacturers, which use shoddy materials and unskilled labor. When the merchandise arrives, it is often damaged or of poor quality.

Penny Auctions

Also known as bidding fee auctions, penny auctions allow users to compete against one another to claim discount products. Unfortunately, customers are required to pay for so-called bid packs, which they must use every single time they make a bid. Even if you fail to win the auction, you will lose money. The Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau have each issued reports warning consumers about the pitfalls associated with these sites. According to each consumer advocate, many of these sites use software to make fake bids on products. Ultimately, penny auctions tend to cost consumers a lot of money without providing consistent bargains.

Thing to Watch For

When shopping online, you should know how to spot potential scams. First, do not shop at any website that fails to provide a telephone number for customer support. Also, be sure to read the site's terms of service to see where products originate from and whether it features a fair return and refund policy. Finally, check the Better Business Bureau to see if the company is accredited and whether there are numerous complaints associated with the brand.

A Smarter Strategy

Generally, consumers find better deals when they shop at sites that offer discounts at local brick and mortar stores. Since the bargain site is only acting as an intermediary between you and the merchant, you don't have to worry as much about scams. What's more, if you ever have any problems, you can simply visit the merchant to speak to a manager.