Happy Holiday Shopping
Still doing your holiday shopping? Many of us are. Whether you’re shopping online, by phone, or in stores, the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, has a gift for you — a dozen dynamic holiday shopping tips to help you watch your wallet, shop wisely, and protect your personal information.
- Make a shopping list and check it twice. Don’t forget to add incidentals like cards, wrapping paper, parking, or eating out to your budget.
- Consider customer reviews carefully. The law says reviewers should disclose their connection to a company, but not all of them do. Before you buy anything based on a review, search online for information from sources you trust. Compare reviews from a variety of websites.
- If you use a mobile device to shop for deals, be aware that e-mails, texts or posts may lead to fraudulent sites claiming bargains on brand name products.
- Giving jewelry? Take some time to learn the terms used in the industry so you can get the best quality and value.
- Make sure the scanned price is right. Overcharges cost you money and time, especially if you don’t notice them right away.
- Save every receipt. When you’re shopping online, keep copies of your order number, the refund and return policies, shipping costs and warranties.
- Free can be costly. Screen savers, e-cards, or other free seasonal downloads can carry viruses. Keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware software current, along with your firewall.
- Billed for merchandise that wasn’t received? Here’s what to do if you get a bill for merchandise that you — or your Aunt Colleen — never received.
- Treat a gift card like cash. If it’s lost or stolen, you may be out the whole amount. Report it to the issuer right away.
- Think 'green' while you're shopping, online or off. Consider items with minimal packaging or made with recycled content. Check product descriptions or labels to determine an item’s recyclability and whether it's made from recycled materials. Take your own bags on shopping trips.
- Be stingy when it comes to sharing your personal information. Don’t give out your credit card or other financial information for a chance at the newest tech toy, free gift card, seasonal job or holiday vacation rental.
- Tis the season to be wary, especially of charities that don’t — or won’t — provide key information in writing. Look for their mission statement, costs and where the money goes.