Although retail stores skip right from ghosts and pumpkins to tinsel and mistletoe, the Thanksgiving weekend is still the traditional kick-off to the holiday shopping season. Your BBB is offering a Guide to Gifting to help consumers through this holiday season, including Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.
"Every year, shoppers fall victim to holiday deals which seem too good to be true, and the phoney charity pleas that prey on consumers good hearted nature", said Frank Cilona, President of the Better Business Bureau. "As consumers begin to make their holiday gift list and charity donations, deceptive scam artists are gearing up to deck the halls with their tried and true holiday scams".
BBB urges consumers to take the following tips into consideration before doing their holiday shopping and making charity donations:
- Do your research. Find businesses you can trust on bbb.org/canton. There are BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses, from the most popular chains to local shops. Read past customers' experiences and see how the business responds to complaints. BBB Accredited Businesses carry the BBB seal and have pledged to uphold our Standards for Trust, as well as handle complaints promptly.
- Read the ads carefully. Black Friday is known for "door busting" sales, but sometimes quantities are limited or there are other restriction. Before you wait in line for hours or brave the boisterous crowds, be sure you know what's really being offered. For more tips: bbb.org/blackfriday.
- Shop around. Not all of the best sales or the best prices are in the big box stores. Thousands of small and independent businesses are participating in Snall Business Saturday on November 28. Look for the "Shop Small" signs at local businesses for Small Business Saturday specials or visit shopsmall.com for a list of participating retailers. For more tips: bbb.org/shopsmall.
- Be safe online. The National Retail Federation expects online sales to top $105 billion this holiday season. Shop safe online; look for a small lock icon and an extra "s" in the URL (https...the extra "s" is for secure). Watch out for look-alike websites that mimic famous brands but that may be a scam. Use a credit card for online shopping, as it has more fraud protections than a debit card. Make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date and avoid clicking on links in unsolicited email and social media messages. For more tips: bbb.org/cybermonday.
- Be wary. Cyber Monday is one of the biggest online shopping days, but beware of scams. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for holiday-related cons that require you to link ot a website and share personal information. Scammers take advantage of bargain hunters, seasonal job seekers, and harried parents looking for the hot new toy or latest gadget. A popular holiday scam comes in an email claiming to be from a package delivery service. If you see a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker/canton so others can be warned.
- Give wisely. Charitable giving is always high at the holidays when donors are feeling generous. Giving Tuesday on December 1 is all about being generous after the shopping frenzy. Make sure the charity you select will be a good steward of your money. Check out give.org for charity reviews from BBB Wise Giving Alliance. For more tips: bbb.org/givingtuesday.
For more information or to schedule an interview with a BBB spokesperson, contact Kimberly Thompson at 330-454-9401.