Start checking your lists! Christmas is nearly two months away. Okay, it’s still a little too early to be talking about holiday shopping this year, but with the back-to-school sales long over, retailers have already shifted focus to thinking up attention-attracting deals to draw in Black Friday customers. The National Retail Federation reported that back-to-school shopping deals began earlier than ever this year. Now, with the rare occasion of Hanukkah beginning on the night before Thanksgiving, (November 28) retailers are poised to start holiday deals earlier than ever before.
With consumer trends preparing for the holidays earlier and earlier each year, your Better Business Bureau is making sure you’re prepared early for the upcoming online shopping season. Just as the temperatures begin to cool down, online shopping season begins heating up, beginning with Halloween. Con artists are known to also ramp up their efforts to defraud consumers during this time, as they know more people will be online with their personal and financial information at their fingertips.
1. Starting with Halloween, the internet provides a marketplace full of unique costumes and spooky decorations that aren’t always available in stores. Consumers turn to the web and seasonal sites. Be sure to check out the company’s business review with your BBB to discover more about the company and nature of any complaints. For seasonal stores and specialty sites, identify the company’s return policies before you buy and if the store/site will still be open after the season for any possible returns.
2. Just as you prepare for the holiday shopping season, you should also prepare your computer. Install a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Check for and install the latest updates and run virus scans on a regular basis.
3. Be able to identify a website’s security settings. If the site is secure, its web address will start with “https://,” with the “S” meaning secure. You could also see a picture of a small lock near the address bar or at the bottom of the screen.
5. Keep documentation of your orders. Save a copy of the confirmation page or emails confirming the order until your receive the products and are satisfied. Also keep the tracking number for shipments. This information can help you find a lost order.
6. Obtain different passwords for all of your online accounts. Your passwords should have at least eight characters and should be made up of numbers, symbols and letters.
For more information on how to protect yourself online, visit BBB’s internet shopping tips.