While many Americans will be flooding shops and malls across the nation, millions will shop from the comfort of their home during the busy Thanksgiving weekend. Many stores will offer some of their best specials on Cyber Monday.
Some shoppers have already gotten off to a head start online. Of those planning on exchanging gifts this year, 57 percent of consumers have already made at least one purchase online, per the National Retail Federation.
Even though there are incredible deals and savings, be aware scammers are out there to snatch up items too – your personal information. The Federal Trade Commission has issued its top 10 tips for online shopping during the holidays.
- Make a list and a budget. Include incidentals, like cards, wrapping paper and eating out so you know what you spent, and where. If a purchase seems fishy, it may be a good idea to report it.
- Along with the above, paying by credit card can help you dispute charges that you didn’t make.
- Check out websites that compare prices for items sold online, and at stores in your area – sometimes the better deals are elsewhere!
- Be aware that shopping apps can collect a lot of information, like your name, address, phone number, email, and Social Security number. Look for apps that tell you what they do with your data, and how they keep it secure.
- Check out product warranties. Although not required by law, warranties come with most major purchases.
- Don’t give out personal information for a chance to win the newest tech toy or a free gift card. Your information can be sold or used to commit identity theft.
- Look for rebates. Some can be redeemed at checkout, but most require you to send documentation to the manufacturer to get your rebate.
- When shopping online, keep copies of your order number, the refund and return policies, shipping costs and warranties.
- Know the return and exchange policies of each store you visit – some places only offer refunds 30 days after purchase around the peak Holiday season.
- If money’s tight, consider layaway. You typically make a deposit and pay over time; the retailer holds the merchandise until you’ve paid for the item in full.
- Shipping to loved ones overseas? Check the U.S. Postal Service’s calendar for shipping deadlines.
- ‘Tis the season to be wary, especially of charities that don’t — or won’t — provide key information in writing. Search the name of the organization online. Use the words “complaints” or “scam” in your search to make sure your donations are being put to proper use.