As the biggest shopping days of the holiday season approach, BBB is offering a few safe shopping tips for busy consumers.
Thanksgiving is almost here, Black Friday shoppers are preparing; some may even get a jump start because a number of retailers are opening their doors Thursday evening. Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Nebraska, South Dakota, The Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa is offering tips to people planning on taking advantage of sales offers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, online shopping the Monday after Thanksgiving.
“Some consumers are so eager to get big ticket items, they plan their Thanksgiving around Black Friday deals,” said Jim Hegarty, BBB president and CEO. “The crowds this year will be no different, ease your shopping day by making a game plan, sticking to your budget and understanding each store’s return policy.”
Black Friday shopping advice:
• Get the real deal. Do you know if a sale is really a sale? It always pays to comparison shop. Take the time to check prices on the same items at other stores.
• Search for Black Friday ads ahead of time. Newspapers often have coupons that give discounts for Black Friday. Ads are also posted on the Internet. Some sites post ads for Black Friday before they are published. Bring the ad with you to be sure you get the deal advertised.
• Know return policies, restocking fees and refunds. Ask for the store’s return policy before you make your purchase. Companies are not required to give you your money back, but they need to post their return policy prominently near the cashier. Also, always ask about restocking fees, and save your receipts in one place so you don’t lose them. Many companies will require you to produce a receipt for a return. Ask for a gift receipt.
• Pay with a credit card and protect your personal information.
“Online shopping can be a convenient way to shop for gifts, especially when so many families live in widely scattered locations,” said Hegarty. “BBB reminds shoppers to be careful: The Internet is rife with scams that can separate consumers from their money or steal their personal information. And some companies may not be able to deliver gifts in time for the holidays.”
Shoppers can prepare themselves for online shopping by watching ads and browsing for the items they’re seeking in advance. Unless you’re educated, it can be hard to tell whether an online deal actually will save you money. Read a site’s policies for returns and understand shipping schedules before you enter your credit card number.
Cyber Monday shopping advice:
• Avoid making purchases over a wireless connection in a public space. Shared connections allow hackers to access your computer, tablet or phone and lure you to fake sites where they can gather your credit information.
• Password protect your home network connection. Plug into the network. Wireless connections are inherently less secure than Ethernet connections, for the same reasons noted above.
• Be cautious about links provided in emails. You’ll see plenty of deals come through your inbox, and it will be tempting to just click on the links to get the deal. Experts recommend pasting the link into a new browser window, or navigating directly to the site to find the coupon or deal. Hackers can manipulate emails links to look safe when they’re actually designed to take a user to a fraudulent page.
• Lock down your social networks. The more of your interests that you make public, the more information a scammer could potentially use to target you with fake offers that you’ll be tempted to accept.
• Dedicate one of your credit cards to all of your online purchases. That way, if your information is compromised, it’s only one account. • Look for the BBB Accredited Business seal on the company’s homepage. By clicking on this seal, you will be taken to the company’s BBB Business Review.
Check a company’s BBB Business Review before you make a purchase by going to bbbinc.org or by calling 800-649-6814.
Better Business Bureau, Inc. (BBB) has been assisting U.S consumers and businesses since 1912. It is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing trust in the marketplace. Accountability, education and recognition of business role models are key components to BBB’s mission. Today BBB serving Nebraska, South Dakota the Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa is supported by approximately 10,000 Accredited Businesses that have voluntarily committed to adhere to BBB’s Standards of Trust. Consumers are encouraged to visit bbb.org for Business Reviews on over 4 million companies or to report complaints and possible scams.