BBB Tip: Shop safe, shop smart this holiday season
Milwaukee, Wis. – People are predicted to spend just under $1,000 this holiday season on friends and loved ones, according to the National Retail Federation. This amount is slightly less than what was spent during the 2019 holiday season. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most consumers are expected to do some or all of their holiday shopping online.
Retailers are advised to follow health department guidelines to keep shoppers and employees safe while in the store. The usual rush and crush of holiday crowds are expected to be greatly reduced due to requirements for social distancing. Financially, there may be a smaller holiday budget for some shoppers as many people continue to look for work, including part-time holiday jobs.
Experts are predicting at least a 35 percent increase in e-commerce sales allowing retailers to enhance online offerings much earlier than the traditional Black Friday deals. For consumers, this also means more reading, researching, and checking on both the products and the sellers.
BBB recommends the following tips to “Shop Safe, Shop Smart” this holiday season:
- Research before you buy. Out of the 57 percent who did not research the website or business via an independent source (*like BBB.org) before making a purchase, 81 percent lost money.
- If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. The top motivating factor for people who made a purchase, then lost money was price. Don’t shop on price alone.
- Beware of fake websites: Check the URL, watch for bad grammar, research the age of the domain, search for contact information, and read online reviews.
- Professional photos do not mean it’s a real offer. Respondents reported that website photos motivated them to engage with scammers, especially for pets/pet supplies, clothing/accessories, and vehicles.
- Make sure the website is secure. Look for the “https” in the URL (the extra s is for “secure”) and a small lock icon on the address bar. Never enter payment or personal information into a website with only “http” – it is NOT secure.
- Be careful purchasing sought-after products, especially during the holiday season.The risk of online purchase scams rises during the holidays because more people are making online purchases, and scammers offer the most popular products for the season at great prices.
- Beware of making quick purchases while scrolling through social media. Scammers have access to tools they need to learn about your buying behaviors, offering exactly what you want at enticingly low prices.
- Look for the BBB seal. BBB Accredited Businesses pledge to uphold the BBB Standards for Trust and to deal fairly with consumers. If a business displays a BBB seal, verify it by going to BBB.org.
- Use secure and traceable transactions and payment methods.According to BBB’s research, those paid with a credit card were less likely to lose money. Be cautious when paying by digital wallet apps, prepaid money cards, or other non-traditional payment methods.
- Shipment tracking information can be faked. Look closely to make sure it is a legitimate business. Avoid clicking on the tracking link; go to the ‘shipper’s website and type in the code to see if it is real.
- Count on BBB to help you “Shop Safe, Shop Smart.” More tips are available at BBB.org/holiday-tips.
- Report unsatisfactory purchase experiences to BBB. If you are unhappy with a purchase, file a complaint at BBB.org/complaints. If you never got what you paid for, consider reporting it to BBB Scam Tracker (BBB.org/ScamTracker) to help other consumers avoid being scammed.
Read more BBB holiday tips.
For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2019, people turned to BBB more than 183 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.8 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Wisconsin which was founded in 1939 and serves the state of Wisconsin.