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BBB issues alert for Black Friday, Cyber Monday scams

According to the National Retail Federation, people are predicted to spend just under $1,000 this holiday season on gifts.
Better Business Bureau cautions consumers.
Better Business Bureau cautions consumers.(KMVT)
Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 6:30 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – Black Friday, traditionally the single busiest shopping day of the year, will look a bit different in 2020. Instead of setting the alarm to brave crowds live in stores for deeply discounted items, dedicated shoppers will be looking for deals online.

Fears of the pandemic and even tighter business restrictions and challenges in Illinois will make shopping online and gift cards, etc., more popular than ever. This year, retailers, both brick and mortar and online, ramped up early sales efforts to attract shoppers. Still, consumers surveyed said they will be looking for Black Friday and Cyber Monday special deals being offered.

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According to the National Retail Federation, people are predicted to spend just under $1,000 this holiday season on gifts. With the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic, recent new Illinois guidelines, this amount is slightly less than the 2019 holiday season.

  • 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.

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