BBB Tips: Navigating holiday shopping during pandemic

Consumer Watch

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) – The National Retail Federation anticipates the average American will spend over $1K on gifts, decor, and travel this holiday season.

Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina wants to make sure that scammers don’t rob you of this joy this holiday season by offering tips to help consumers navigate Black Friday and Cyber Monday during a pandemic.

BBB offers the following holiday shopping tips to guard against identity theft and various scams targeting consumers during the holidays:

  • Start early. Numbers indicate that online shopping is up, so starting your shopping early can help avoid running into out-of-stock or overpriced items. 
  • Research the business ahead of time. Check their business profile on bbb.org, ask for references from friends/family, and look for reviews and/or complaints. 
  • Use your credit card. When making purchases online, use your credit card rather than a debit card or another form of payment. Credit card companies are more likely to offer refunds in the event of theft.
  • Ensure valuable items. Purchase delivery insurance to protect merchandise against loss or damage. Contact your local police department if you do become a victim of package theft.
  • Always check the return policy. Whether you are shopping in a store or online, always make sure you are clear on the store’s return policy before you buy. Many businesses have changed their return or exchange policies in light of the pandemic. 

“Although major holiday shopping days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday offer irresistible deals, they are also prime opportunities for scammers to capitalize on a consumer’s spending habits.” said Mallory Wojciechowski, president and CEO of BBB serving Eastern NC. “Given the current pandemic, this year’s holiday shopping experience is bound to be different, but one thing that’s for certain is that con artists will be lurking online.”

Black Friday Shopping Tips:

  • Look for early deals. Retailers are starting their holiday deals earlier than usual and may last throughout the weekend up until Cyber Monday. Be on the lookout for early deal days, likely available online as well, from retailers and see how long these “doorbusters” will last.
  • Know updated store hours. Many big-name retailers have announced they will be closed on Thanksgiving day, including Best Buy, Target, and Walmart.
  • Look for online sales. With a large number of consumers expected to opt for online shopping instead of in-person, many stores are offering similar deals online.

Cyber Monday Shopping Tips:

  • Shop with legitimate websites. Make sure the website you’re ordering from is secure by ensuring the URL has https and a lock icon to the left of the URL. On Apple products, the entire URL should be highlighted green.
  • Track your packages. Follow shipments from the seller to your front door with online, text message, or phone call tracking offered through the delivery company. Sign up for alerts to be notified of delays or exceptions and when the package has been delivered.
  • Request a signature. This package delivery feature will likely come with a fee, but without a recipient’s signature, the delivery service won’t be able to leave a package exposed on a doorstep.
  • Beware of false advertising such as fake social media ads. 
  • Ensure your antivirus software is up to date.
  • 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.
  • Watch out for phishing scams. 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 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.

For additional information on shopping safe this holiday season, click here.

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