BBB of Eastern NC issues warning for consumers to shop smart

FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 29, 2010, file photo, a consumer looks at Cyber Monday sales on her computer at her home in Palo Alto, Calif.  Online sales growth so far this holiday season is surpassing growth in sales at physical stores, according to First Data, which analyzed online and in-store payments from Oct. 31 through Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 29, 2010, file photo, a consumer looks at Cyber Monday sales on her computer at her home in Palo Alto, Calif. Online sales growth so far this holiday season is surpassing growth in sales at physical stores, according to First Data, which analyzed online and in-store payments from Oct. 31 through Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The biggest holiday shopping days are approaching and the Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina is urging consumers to shop smart this holiday season.

Between Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday, there are plenty of opportunities to buy or give during the holiday season.

With all of those chances to spend or give money, the BBB is warning consumers that they need to do so safely.

“The holiday shopping season can be hectic and overwhelming for a lot of consumers,” says Mallory Wojciechowski, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina. “Even with all the chaos going on, it is extremely important that shoppers make sure they are doing business with legitimate companies and avoid the scammers out there that trying to capitalize on the busiest shopping season of the year.”

BBB serving Eastern NC offers the following tips for holiday shopping both in person and online:

  • Research before you shop – If you find a great coupon, be sure to print it out and bring it to the store with you. Check out Business Reviews and Customer Reviews at www.bbb.org to make sure you are dealing with a reputable business that will guarantee the sale prices they claim to have.
  • Know store policies – Knowing the store policies on returns can help you determine where to buy. Many retailers may include restocking fees and shorter return deadlines.
  • Ask for gift receipts – Gift receipts generally include a description of the item purchased, but do not disclose the price paid. Without proof-of-purchase, the recipient may be turned down for returning or exchanging the item, or risk receiving an exchange at a lower price.
  • Shop on trustworthy websites – Shoppers should start with BBB to check on the seller’s Business Review for customer satisfaction at www.bbb.org. Always look for the BBB seal on retailer websites and click on the seals to confirm that they are valid.
  • Protect your personal information – Take time to read the site’s privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If there isn’t one posted, it should be taken as a red flag that personal information may be sold to others without permission.
  • Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – Offers on websites and in unsolicited e-mails often sound too good to be true, especially extreme low prices on hard-to-get items. Consumers should always go with their instincts and not be afraid to pass up a “deal” that might cost them dearly in the end. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Confirm that your online purchase is secure – Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, BBB recommends right-clicking anywhere on the page and selecting “Properties.” This will let you see the real URL (website address), and the dialog box will reveal whether the site is encrypted or not.
  • Pay with a credit card – It’s best to use a credit card, because under Federal law, the shopper can dispute the charges if he or she doesn’t receive an item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card and many card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.
  • Keep documentation of your order – After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by e-mail. The BBB recommends saving a copy of the Web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.

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