ROCKFORD — The head of the local Better Business Bureau, on Wednesday, issued a warning to shoppers ahead of Black Friday.
Fears of the pandemic and even tighter business restrictions and challenges in Illinois will make shopping online and gift cards more popular than ever.
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.
“Most of us have already seen the sales that have been promoted for this Christmas shopping season,” Rockford Better Business Bureau Director Dennis Horton said. “However, it remains to be seen whether the early start is beneficial for consumers.”
Horton said the biggest concern for shoppers this year is whether holiday deals are real.
“Whether you are online or shopping in a store,” he said, “consumers should take steps to protect themselves. Past studies have shown that the prices advertised as Black Friday savings can often be found for the same price at other times of the year, which negates any real deal.”
The BBB recommends, along with following CDC guidelines to say healthy and safe in stores, certain precautions when shopping online.
Horton says fake websites are use for common scams. Easy to create, fake ties the been a surging problem for the past couple of years.
It’s also important for shoppes to read product reviews on extremely discounted items. And items advertised at discounted price could just bee cheaper model or another brand as displayed. To avoid being taken, Horton said to research online using a secure WiFi connection to see if competitors have the item at a better price.
Following are more BBB recommendations.
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.
Knowing 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.
Beware of gift cards
Ensure you know the expiration dates and check if they are offering more extended time periods to redeem them because of Covid -19.
Secure payments only
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.
Social media caution
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.
Shopping online with a credit card is safer than using a debit card or electronic check.
Horton says extra prcautions should also be taken on Cyber Monday. Many new electronic items on the market are very expensive, and sending scammers money can be a very costly mistake.
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