BBB advice for Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping; avoid holiday scams

The holiday season is upon us, and your Better Business Bureau® serving Central & Eastern Kentucky offers tips to help you avoid scams, and make the gift shopping process go a little more smoothly!

“BLACK FRIDAY” – In 2017, shoppers spent a record $5 billion on Black Friday, a 17% increase from 2016. The print and email ads have been circulating already as retailers and shoppers gear up for this year’s Black Friday shopping. Better Business Bureau offers these tips to make your Black Friday shopping experience productive:

·       Learn about advertising tricks and gimmicks. Pay close attention to phrases like “beat competitors’ prices”, “up to __ % off”, or “free with purchase,” that require careful examination of terms and conditions. Watch for “asterisks” next to words or phrases, indicating there are conditions to the offer. Learn more atbbb.org/adtruth.

·       Read the fine print. Some stores only honor sale ads during a certain time frame, or on certain days. Some stores may only allow you to purchase one item, particularly large, popular and/or deeply discounted products.

·       Know the seller. Some of the best deals are only available online, but be careful. It’s easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer’s website, so make sure you are shopping on a legitimate site. Check unfamiliar stores or websites at bbb.org.

·       Ask for gift receipts and save warranty information. A gift receipt can be tucked into a gift item so that the recipient can return or exchange a gift if it’s not quite right. Be sure to pass along any information about returns, exchanges, repairs, and warranties to the recipient. Keep in mind that retailers are permitted to set their own return/exchange policies.

“CYBER MONDAY” – In 2017, online transactions on Cyber Monday reached a record $6.59 billion, a 16.8 percent increase over the previous year. Online shopping can be easy and convenient…but BBB has seen too many consumers get taken by ordering what looked like a great deal only to be left with no item and no money. Better Business Bureau has this advice for online shoppers this holiday season.

·       Be a savvy shopper. When shopping online, take your time, and read the fine print before submitting your order. Look for the return policy during the holidays, as some stores have different return policies depending on the item you purchase. If the online merchant also has bricks-and-mortar locations, ask if it is possible to return items to the physical location. Some online orders can be returned for a full refund; others have re-stocking fees.

·       Trust but verify. When shopping online, use retail websites that you trust. Use common sense and avoid deals that seem “too good to be true.” Always check to see where the business is physically located.  If the only way to contact it is via email, that’s a red flag. If you’re shopping with an unfamiliar retailer, check it out at bbb.org.

·       Use anti-virus software. To ensure your computer and personal information are safe, use anti-virus software on your computer or mobile device and keep it up-to-date. If in public, don’t use websites containing personal information (bank, credit card) on public wi-fi, as that information could be picked up by an identity thief.

·       Shop with a credit card. A credit card provides additional protections over a debit card in case of fraudulent transactions. If your card number is compromised, it’s easier to dispute any charges that you didn’t approve. Prepaid cards or gift cards don’t have the same protections as a credit card, but you’ll never lose more than the value of the card itself.

·       Make sure websites are secure. Only share personal information and your credit card number with websites that are https (the extra “s” stands for secure) and that have a security lock icon in the task bar.

·       Be careful of phishing scams. A popular one at this time of year is an email claiming to be from a package- delivery company with links to tracking information (clicking on unfamiliar links can place you at risk for malware and/or identity theft).

For more information on holiday season topics, visit bbb.org/holidayhelper.

 

Consumers may report scams to BBB Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker.

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