10 tips to avoid holiday shopping scams - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

10 tips to avoid holiday shopping scams

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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -- By the end of this week millions of shoppers will hit the stores on Black Friday for the best deals. But before you go, be beware of Grinch-like scammers!

All deals are not created equal and the fine print is often the most important thing.
 
Melanie Duquesnel, president and CEO at the Better Business Bureau Eastern Michigan, offers the following tips to help save time and money:

Tip 1 - Know before You Go.
In the coming weeks many retailers will release their Black Friday deals online, in social media and other publications. Research where the sales are and make a list of your gift priorities to compare prices and plan your day of deals. Since many advertisements will begin before the actual sale, build up a coupon collection as soon as possible. Remember to bring ads with you on Black Friday just in case the price is not what you expected.

Tip 2 - Don't Fall for False Advertising.

Despite BBBs effort to advance trust in the marketplace, some companies will resort to advertisements that are untrue, misleading, deceptive, or plain fraudulent. Black Friday advertising will be abundant and BBB urges consumers to watch for red flags.

Many consumers have experienced frustration and lost money they can't afford to lose after being lured by prices too good to be true, bait and switch ads designed to bring you in but push you toward more expensive items, fine print return policies, final sales, and deals that end before the day is done. To protect you on Black Friday, BBB advises consumers not to believe all they see or hear without doing their own research to confirm the claims being made. For details and help to decipher truth in adverting, consumers can review BBB's code of advertising.

Tip 3 - Maximize Advance Alerts.
Do you have favorite retailers? Now is a good time to sign up for their email alerts and "like" their Facebook page. BBB Accredited Businesses and other stores are working to reward your loyalty and you may get a jump on special offers.

Tip 4 - Set up Your Reward Cards.
Have you ever stood in line with out your store rewards card? You either missed out or the clerk may have handed one over. Black Friday deals may have strict restrictions with no sharing allowed. Make sure you have reward cards with your favorite stores and keep them with you. Check your credit card rewards program as well for special points that could add up on Black Friday.

Tip 5 - Shop with Trust.
If you find a deal - don't just jump at the first chance to get it. The BBB recommends doing your research on the business - know how long they've been in business, look into their customer service track record, check them out at bbb.org. If you have concerns about the type of gift or the right fit - make sure you ask about their return policy too.

Tip 6 - Comparative Shop Online.
There are dozens of Black Friday websites that claim to capture the best deals around and they can really help you do your comparative shopping online. Before you pick your favorite site, the BBB recommends that consumers find a reputable site that's not a fly-by-night operation by checking them out at bbb.org and see what others say about the site through an online search. If you decide to buy online, start with trust and know you are dealing with an experienced, reputable retailer; confirm that the site is secure and be certain you have a phone number and physical address should problems arise with your order.

Tip 7 - Look for QR Codes.
They're square, black-and-white and funny looking - but they can take you straight to a deal. QR stands for Quick Response codes and they're popping up in many ads and print materials. Several BBB Accredited Businesses use them and they can bring you directly to a special offer or a BBB Business Review. Before you can scan one and view the offer - you'll have to install a QR app reader. Most newer smart phones are equipped to scan QR codes and if you're a mobile shopper you could really have some fun.

Tip 8 - Shop Small.

Save your gas money and your time when you stay close to home. The Better Business Bureau is encouraging consumers to support small businesses in their community on Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday. Check your neighborhood retailers for their weekend deals and gain some goodwill by knowing you've done your part to help them thrive during the holidays. Although a price match may not be applicable for some items - your neighborhood store may be able to guarantee a price for you - even if you decide to buy later.

Tip 9 - Check Return and Exchange Policies.

All bets can change for Black Friday deals which means the store policies can change too. Make sure you know what the return and exchange policy is for your Black Friday special and that a return is even possible - especially if you're buying online. Final sales, a very short return window (like before December 25th) or in-store or online only credit could leave you with deal gone wrong.

Tip 10 - Shop Safely.

While getting a deal is important, there are ways to shop safely without putting yourself or your wallet in jeopardy. The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to take their time and plan ahead for the best rewards.
- Make a list and prioritize where you should go and when.
- Bring friends into the mix to help sort through your options, two cars can go in two directions making it easier to get limited quantities and some pals will even wait in line as you trade off shopping in the stores.
- Remember to get gift receipts and keep them organized for those moments when the thought wasn't quite enough.

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