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Tips for safe holiday shopping

Holiday ShoppingThink safety when shopping on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday and when donating to a charity on Giving Tuesday

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday – the holiday shopping season is here, and the Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Western Washington and Oregon is advising consumers to shop and give wisely.

Shoppers spent an average of $407 last year and more than 100 million consumers shopped on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, according to the National Retail Federation.

While there are many bargains to be had, the BBB warns of deals that are too good to be true:

  • Safety first. Anticipate traffic and be careful of crowds. Never leave a wallet, credit card, or purse on a counter or in an unattended shopping cart. It’s a good idea to shop with a companion or ask for a security escort to the car.
  • Don’t fall for false advertising. Some companies will offer ads that are misleading, deceptive, or fraudulent. Bait-and-switch tactics are designed to bring consumers into a store but push them toward more expensive items.
  • Check return and exchange policies. Store policies can change for Black Friday deals. Consumers should educate themselves on whether they can return items. Final sales, a short return window, and in-store only credits are common during the holiday shopping season.
  • Shop local. Consumers can save time and money by supporting small businesses in their community. Check neighborhood retailers for their weekend deals on Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday. Some stores may be able to price-match items.
  • Beware of counterfeit sites and sales on Cyber Monday. The anonymity of the Internet often makes it difficult to discern between the legitimate and the counterfeit. Exceptionally low prices, distorted photos, and missing contact information are often signs of a phony online retailer.
  • Give wisely and thoughtfully. Giving Tuesday is the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Before donating to a charity, make sure to check it out. Consumers can see a charity’s rating at BBB.org or Give.org, a website run by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

BBB advises consumers to check a business’ rating and reviews before buying.  For more information, visit BBB.org and download BBB’s iPhone App for reviews on-the-go.

Copyright 2014, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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