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With holiday shopping season right around the corner, BBB tips help to get most bang for your buck

Traditionally, Black Friday is the single busiest shopping day of the year. Whether you’re safely shopping in person or online at home, here are reminders to get the most bang for your buck over the holiday shopping weekend.

Friday, Nov. 26th: Black Friday

• Know the return policy and warranty information. Always find out if an item is able to be returned before purchasing. Asking for gift receipts is an easy way for recipients to return or exchange a gift if it’s not just right.

• Sign up for email alerts. Many stores release their best Black Friday deals and exclusive coupons to people who have subscribed to their emails. Sign up ahead of the holiday season, and then unsubscribe afterwards if needed.

(NKyTribune file)

• Make the most of deals. Start with a list of items you’re interested in, and use sale flyers and promotions to determine which store has the best price. Set a budget and stick with it before heading out.

• Read the fine print. Some retailers may offer an additional percentage off the purchase, but could exclude certain deals or items such as “doorbusters”. Carefully check the price tags, terms and conditions. Research online to see if competitors have the item at a better price.

• Plan out the excursion. If you’re planning on heading to stores, consider making a map of the stores to visit and what items are at each store. Some retailers only honor sale ads during a certain timeframe, or on certain days, and could limit the amount of deeply discounted items available for purchase.

• Do your research. Read product reviews on extremely discounted items. It could be a cheaper model or brand advertised, and not what was expected.

Saturday, Nov. 27th: Small Business Saturday

• Connect with businesses on social media. Many small businesses will advertise their sales via social media. It’s best to also sign up for their email alerts so to see what special deals are offered online if their physical doors remain closed.

• Buy a gift card for later. If you don’t have a specific item in mind from your favorite business, consider purchasing a gift card to use for later. They’ll greatly appreciate the support.

• Get take-out or delivery. Support a locally-owned restaurant by getting your food or drinks to-go and enjoying it at home.

• Research new small businesses near you. Find out what past customers have to say about new stores by reading reviews online at BBB.org.

Monday, Nov. 29th: Cyber Monday

• Know the advertiser. It’s easy for a fake website to mimic a famous retailer’s website, so make sure you’re shopping on a legitimate website. Identify contact information or a physical address; if contact info is missing, it’s a red flag for a fake site.

• Shop with a credit card. In case of fraudulent transactions, a credit card provides additional protections compared to debit cards and prepaid gift cards. It’s easier to dispute charges that you didn’t approve.

• Be a savvy shopper. When shopping online, be sure to take your time and read the fine print before submitting your order. Look for the return policy; although many orders can be returned for a full refund, others have restocking fees. Some items cannot be returned, so know before you buy.

• Think before you click. Be especially cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media sites. Many sketchy retailers advertise great deals or trendy clothes that, once delivered, aren’t the same quality that was advertised; if delivered at all.

• Beware too-good-to-be-true deals. Be cautious of offers on websites and in unsolicited emails for very low prices on hard-to-find items. There may be hidden costs, or your purchase may sign you up for a monthly charge. Look for and read the fine print.

• Check a site’s security settings. If the site is secure, it’s URL should start with “https” and include a lock icon on the purchase or shopping cart page. If the URL reads “http” and is missing an ‘S’, it’s most likely a red flag as the ‘S’ stands for secure.

• Watch out for phishing. Phishing emails can look like a message from a well-known brand, but clicking on unfamiliar links can place you at risk for malware installation and/or identity theft. Don’t click!

Tuesday, Nov. 30th: Giving Tuesday Scams

• Watch out for name similarities. When charities seek support for the same cause, their names are often similar. Before you give, be sure you have the exact name of the charity to avoid a case of mistaken identity.

• Avoid on-the-spot donation decisions from unfamiliar organizations. The holidays bring a higher frequency of donation requests outside public locations. You shouldn’t feel pressured or threatened to make an immediate giving decision. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.

• Be wary of emotional appeals. Marketers have been known to exploit the holidays to make emotional pleas to donors. Instead of making an impulse decision based on emotion, do some research to verify that your selected charity operates ethically.

• Research tax status. Don’t assume every organization claiming to do good is a tax-exempt charity. You can check an organization’s tax status with the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search tool. Also, make sure your contribution is tax deductible.

• Check their Accreditation. Get free access to charity reports at Give.org.

Consumers can report scams to ScamTracker.org, Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov, and Adult Protective Services at ElderJustice.gov.


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