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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
West Florida
Tips for Holiday Budgeting and Shopping
November 26, 2013

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are quickly approaching, and Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina offers tips to help make your shopping adventure as smooth as possible:

Create a budget and stick to it. How can you keep from overspending? BBB has once again teamed up with Clearpoint Credit Solutions to offer the HolidayPlanner Calculator. This easy-to-use online tool will help you create a budget that is realistic for the way you celebrate, entertain, travel and give gifts this holiday season.

Do not fall for the too-good-to-be-true deal. Get to know retailers first by checking out their Business Reviews at bbb.org. Compare prices before you hit the stores on Black Friday so you know if you really are getting a great deal.

Shop small on Small Business Saturday. For the fourth year in a row, BBB is supporting Small Business Saturday and urging consumers to support the small businesses in their communities on November 30. In 2012, an estimated $5.5 billion was spent at small independently owned retailers, according to American Express OPEN. Get involved by promoting local businesses and encouraging others to “shop small.”

Watch out for scams. It is important for consumers to be especially careful of scams this holiday season. Popular holiday scams include:

  • Hackers send phishing e-mails, with phony tracking numbers, from shipping companies claiming that there is a problem with delivery of merchandise. The e-mails instruct consumers to open an attachment to print out the correct delivery label. Upon opening the attachment, their computers are infected with malware.
  • E-cards are used by scammers as a disguise for phishing e-mails. With typical e-cards, the recipients receive an e-mail with a hyperlink that will take users to the e-card, which is housed on a Web site. Unfortunately, this is an easy way for scam artists to direct consumers to their Web site, which will install a virus on their computers.

Shop safely online. Before you surf the Internet on Cyber Monday, make sure your computer has the most recent updates for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Whenever you are asked to provide sensitive information, such as bank account or credit card information,make sure the address bar shows ‘https’ rather than just ‘http’ which indicates that the web browser is secure. It is also best to use a credit card when shopping online because you can dispute the charges if you do not receive the item you ordered.

Know your rights. Whether shopping retail or online, know your legal rights. U.S. law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods are not shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. Consumers also have the right to reject merchandise if it is defective or misrepresented. Otherwise, it is the company’s policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit, so be sure you understand return policies before you buy.