Holiday shopping tips from the Better business Bureau

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – The holidays are here! Whether you are looking for seasonal work, shopping deals, or opportunities to give back, the Better Business Bureau serving Western Michigan has tips and advice to make the most of the holiday season. Troy Baker joins us in studio.

>>> Take a look in the video above.

Black Friday is the single busiest shopping day of the year. And you need to stay smart to stay safe.

Tips from the BBB for Black Friday

  • Make the most of Black Friday deals. Start with a list of items you are looking for and use sale flyers and promotions to determine which store has the best price. Also, figure out how much you can afford to spend… and stick to it!
  • Read the fine print. Some retailers may offer an additional percentage off your purchase, but could exclude certain deals or items such as “door busters.” Also, be cautious of companies that boast a high percentage off; the item may be “75% off,” but the original price could be inflated.
  • Plan your approach. In many cases, you no longer have to wait to see what deals will be offered on Black Friday. Retailers now release their Black Friday flyers weeks ahead of time, so consumers can plan out their shopping spree.  Make a map of the stores you plan to visit and what items are at which store. Some retailors only honor sale ads during a certain time frame, or on certain days, and could limit the amount of deeply discounted items you purchase.
  • 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, but be cautious of what information you have to provide in order to receive such alerts.
  • Do your research. Read product reviews on extremely discounted items. It could be a cheaper model or brand advertised, and not what you initially think you’re getting. As you are looking through the sales flyers and ads, check BBB.org for Business Profiles of the stores you want to visit, and read what other customers’ have experienced.
  • Know the return policy and warranty information. Be sure to pass along any information about returns, exchanges, repairs, and warranties to the person who will use the item. Gift receipts are an easy way for recipients to return or exchange a gift if it’s not just right, but make sure the item is able to be returned before purchasing.

Tips from the BBB for Cyber Monday

  • Beware of false advertising and phony websites. If a company is selling the hottest item of the year at a price that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for false advertising and keep a close eye on the web address in your browser. Scammers love to create lookalike websites that, at first glance, appear to belong to a trusted retailer. Make sure websites use the correct spelling of a business name and have legitimate contact information and customer service numbers.
  • Shop with trustworthy sellers on secure sites only. Be wary of businesses you aren’t familiar with. Check their BBB Business Profile on BBB.org, look at the rating, and read customer reviews. In addition, be sure any web page you purchase from is secure. Secure web addresses begin with HTTPS:// and not just HTTP://. Never put personal or credit card information in forms on non-secure web pages.
  • Keep your antivirus software up to date.  Make sure you have antivirus software installed on your computer or mobile device, and that it is up to date. This will help you to avoid non-secure websites and pop-up phishing scams, and help keep your personal information safe.
  • Price check before you buy. Dozens of online retailers will claim they have the best price on an item, but their offers can be misleading.  Do your homework by comparing prices. Remember that the best deal may not be the real deal.
  • Take advantage of rewards and loyalty programs. Check your credit card rewards program for special point offers that could add up on Cyber Monday and throughout the holidays. Make purchases using loyalty programs; many  major retailers have them.
  • Use your credit card. It’s always best to make online purchases with your credit card. If any shady charges turn up later, you will be able to contest them through your credit card company. Debit cards don’t offer this same protection. Never make purchases with online sellers by giving them prepaid debit cards or wiring them money.
  • Understand return policies. Online store policies may change for Cyber Monday offers. Read the fine print before you buy. Understand the return or exchange policy for the specific item you would like to purchase. Be aware that stores may not allow returns for “final sale” or “closeout” items. Make sure to get gift receipts, so the recipient can return or exchange the item if necessary.
  • Watch out for phishing scams. Busy schedules and increased purchases make it easier to miss – and fall victim to – a phishing scam. Look out for unsolicited emails, texts, calls, or letters. These messages may claim you have a free gift waiting for you or that there is a problem with a delivery – all you need to do is click on a link or give up your personal information. Avoid phishing scams by ignoring suspicious correspondence and calls from unfamiliar phone numbers.

Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan

  • 3330 Claystone Street SE
  • Grand Rapids, MI  49546
  • BBB.org
  • 616-774-8236

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