Tips to avoid scammers who target online shoppers ahead of Black Friday

Morning News

Steve Bernas is the President & CEO Chicago Better Business Bureau.

Steve Bernas, president, and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois, says, “Most of us have already seen the sales that have been promoted for this Christmas shopping season. However, it remains to be seen whether the early start is beneficial for consumers.” 

Cyber Monday will require additional caution. Many new electronic items on the market are very expensive, and sending scammers money can be a very costly mistake. Fakwie websites are easy to create and have been a surging problem reported to the BBB the past couple of years. Often you order, they take your money and then the vanish  

Bernas adds, “Everyone looking for a deal needs to make sure those deals are real; whether you are online or shopping in a store, consumers should take steps to protect themselves. Past studies have shown that the prices advertised as Black Friday savings can often be found for the same price at other times of the year, which negates any real deal.”  

BBB Tips: If you do decide to shop on Black Friday, Better Business Bureau offers these tips to make your shopping experience productive and maybe even enjoyable: 

Stay Safe.  Follow CDC guidelines to healthy and safe while in the store.  

Know Who You’re Doing Business With. Fake Websites are easy to create and have been a surging problem for the past couple of years. 

Do your research. Read product reviews on extremely discounted items. It could be a cheaper model or brand advertised, and not what was expected. Check BBB.org for Business Profiles for ratings and reviews of the stores to see who you are dealing with and read what other customers’ have experienced. 

Make the most of Black Friday deals.Start with a list of items and use sale flyers and promotions to determine which store has the best price. Set a budget and stick with it. 

Read the fine print. Some retailers may offer an additional percentage off the purchase but could exclude specific deals or items such as “doorbusters.” Watch for companies boasting a high percentage off; the item may be “75% off,” but the original price could be inflated. Carefully check the price tags, terms, and conditions. Research online using a secure wifi connection to see if competitors have the item at a better price. 

Plan your shopping. Especially this year, retailers will release Black Friday flyers ahead of time so that consumers can plan out their shopping spree.  Make a list of the items of the highest interest and what items are at which store. Some retailers only honor sale ads during a specific time frame or on certain days and could limit the amount of deeply discounted items available for purchase. 

Sign-up for email alerts. Many stores release their best Black Friday deals and exclusive coupons to people who have subscribed to their emails. 

Know the return policy and warranty information. Pass along any information about returns, exchanges, repairs, and warranties to the person who will use the item. Gift receipts are an easy way for recipients to return or exchange a gift if it’s not just right, but make sure the item can be returned before purchasing. 

Gift Cards could be even more popular this year. Ensure you know the expiration dates and check if they are offering more extended time periods to redeem them because of Covid -19. 

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 information into a website with only “http” – it is NOT secure.  

Beware of making quick purchases while scrolling through social media. Scammers have access to tools they need to learn about your buying habits, offering precisely what you want at enticingly low prices, and scammers often purchase on-line ads. 

Use a secure traceable form of payment. Using a credit card, you’re less likely to lose money.  

Visit BBB.org to look up a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, report a scam, read tips, follow us on social media, and more! 

Report bad ads to BBB AdTruth

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