Starting late Thursday night, millions of consumers will descend on local stores and cyberspace hoping to take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. According to a survey from BIGresearch, the average person will spend more than $500 on holiday gifts this year.
To minimize the effect on your wallet this holiday season, BBB recommends the following safe shopping tips:
1) Create a list and a budget beforehand. It can be easy to overspend with the various sales, discounts and other distractions online and in-store. Make a list of the people you plan to buy gifts for and how much you are willing to spend per person before you start shopping. Write the person’s name next to every item you buy and how much it costs. Once you have met your spending limit, cross his or her name off your list.
2) Watch for unclear advertising. Read the fine print on in-store coupons and ads to make sure you get the discount promised. For online purchases, watch for websites promoting extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Research the deal to make sure it is legitimate. Avoid purchases that require redirection to a different website for payment.
3) Use a credit card whenever possible. Credit cards offer more protection if you do not receive an item or if you are mistakenly charged for additional items or fees. For online purchases, only give credit card information through secure, encrypted websites marked with “https” in the URL.
4) Keep receipts and confirmation pages. Make copies of all receipts, print or save a screenshot of confirmation pages and check your credit card statements regularly to catch any mistakes as early as possible. This will help you keep track of what you have bought and make returns easier for friends and family.