CHICAGO, IL - December 21, 2011 -
The holiday season is upon us, and so are Grinches and Scrooges out to take
your money. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois
(BBB) offers ten tips to consumers to avoid theft, fraud and scams during the holiday
The holidays are a prime time for scammers to take advantage of last
minute shoppers. It's in every consumer's best interest to be alert and aware when
shopping, including online.
"For many families, giving gifts to loved ones is an important part
of holiday celebrations," said Steve J. Bernas, President & CEO of the
Better business Bureau serving Chicago and
"You can make the holidays even more enjoyable if you learn how to avoid
potential headaches, shop smart and spend wisely."
The BBB offers the
following ten tips to prevent holiday scams:
Think twice before clicking a link sent to you via email: Links may lead to viruses and
allow scammers to get your personal and banking information. Instead,
independently find the sites you want to shop on and check www.bbb.org for free Business Reviews. Look for secure sights Look in
the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the
“lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, the BBB
recommends right-clicking anywhere on the page and select “Properties.” This
will let you see the real URL (website address) and the dialog box will reveal
if the site is not encrypted.
criminals and scammers don't take a holiday: Check out businesses’ privacy policies
before entering personal information. If shopping online be sure your
computer has the most up to date anti-spyware software.
3. Keep all receipts and read the
fine print: Online
businesses are required by law to send your product within 30 days unless
otherwise stated or you get your money back. Before you
find yourself crying Grinch, understand that refund and exchange policies can
differ significantly from one seller to another.
4. Pay with a credit card, instead of
cash or bank card:
If it’s a scam you’ll have record of it and are more likely to get your money
back by disputing the charges if you don’t receive the item
or dispute false charges made to your account. No other form of payment offers this protection.
Also, make sure to check your credit card statements often and not just when
your bill comes in the mail.
5. Beware of gift card scams: Con artists can get important
numbers off of gift cards before you have even bought them by scanning the
identifying number before hand. They can then go onto the website and see when
it is activated, and use it to purchase items. Instead, ask for gift cards
behind the counter instead of the ones displayed and use your gift cards as
soon as possible.
6. Don’t leave your purchases in
plain sight in your car: The holidays are a car thief’s prime time to break in and steal
your purchases. Either remove your purchases from your car or make sure they
are out of sight.
7. Verify validities of charities The
sneakiest Scrooges will often adopt a similar name to known charities, so make
sure you do your research and always make out your payment to the charity and
not individual solicitors. Visit www.bbb.org/charity
8. Make a list and check it twice: Often consumers will head out to
the malls and spend more money than intended, so make a list of what you want
to spend and keep track of how much you are spending.
9. If going with a layaway plan check
out their policy, and if they are BBB Accredited: Layaway is an excellent option
when paying for something pricy or expensive. Make sure to find out all the
details, like how much you need to put down, interest costs, when payments are
due, and return policies so that there are no surprises at the end.
10. Beware of deals that sound to good to be
true…they probably are: When shopping online there are hundreds of websites offering to beat
out great deals. Make sure to check if the website is legitimate at www.bbb.org Sometimes paying less can cost you more.
For more shopping information you can trust, visit www.bbb.org
private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is
to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by
means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising
claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop
and issue reviews on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage
people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.