Shopping tips you can use this holiday season

The holiday season is getting started, and many people will be thankful this Thanksgiving. However, scam artists are thinking of ways to take advantage of you during this time of giving. Your Better Business Bureau offers tips to shoppers and those looking to donate to avoid becoming victims this holiday season.

The holidays bring the best out of people, but many of them let their guard down when it comes to giving. Beware of solicitations from charities that don’t necessarily deliver on their promises. Resist demands for on-the-spot donations and don’t be afraid to ask for identification and or written material on the organizations.

According to U.S. Retail Industry, consumers spent an estimated $496.1 billion in 2011. Overall spending over Thanksgiving weekend was reported to be $52.4 billion. From Nov. 1 through Dec. 26, sales online topped $35 billion, this was 15 percent more than the previous year. Every year, thousands of shoppers become victims of a too-good-to-be-true deals.

Your Better Business Bureau offers a few tips to avoid holiday scams:

Be wary of online shopping scams. Everyone loves a great deal. However, your BBB hears from holiday shoppers regularly who paid for a “great deal” online, but received little or nothing in return.

Conduct transactions in person and look for local sellers when shopping on Craigslist or other free bulletin board sites. Don’t meet unfamiliar sellers alone; bring a friend or family member with you. Never wire money for payment.

Pay attention to your surroundings. Stores get really busy, and it’s a great time for a thief to blend into the crowd. Thieves may see you struggling with an armful of shopping bags as an opportunity to steal your wallet or purse.

Don’t click on unfamiliar links in e-mails. Phishing e-mails are a common way for hackers to get your personal information. Around the holidays, beware of e-cards and messages bogusly claiming to be from family, friends, shipping companies, etc.

Remember, you can always get help from your Better Business Bureau by checking out a business or charity before making a purchase in a store, online or making a donation. Visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.

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