BBB shares Black Friday, Cyber Monday shopping tips

CHICAGO -- Steve Bernas of the Better Business Bureau shared tips on how to get the most for your money and how to protect yourself from scams this holiday season.


BBB Offers Safe Shopping Tips for
Black Friday and Cyber-Monday

CHICAGO - November 23, 2016 - The trend for stores to move away from blockbuster sales as the clock strikes 12 on Thanksgiving Day continues; but shoppers, by the millions, are still preparing to be out searching for deals that may save them hundreds of dollars.
According to the National Retail Federation more than 137 million people will be in stores over the Thanksgiving weekend. And they'll spend big - for the average shopper - it will be over $900 dollars. They'll also up the amount they'll spend on themselves about $140, 4 percent more than last year.

Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois says, "Everyone is looking for a deal but consumers need to make sure those deals are real; whether you are online, or shopping in a store, 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," he notes.

Tips for Black Friday shoppers:

Research before you shop
- If you find a great coupon, be sure to print it and bring it to the store with you. Check out Business Reviews at to make sure you are dealing with a reputable business that will guarantee the sale prices they claim to have.

Know the Stores Return Policies
- Knowing the store policies on returns can help you determine where to buy. Many retailers may include restocking fees and shorter return deadlines.

Ask for Gift Receipts
- Gift receipts generally include a description of the item purchased but do not disclose the price paid. Without proof-of-purchase, the recipient may be turned down for returning or exchanging the item or risk receiving an exchange for the current selling price of the item.

Establish a Budget
-There is a tendency for consumers to overspend during the holidays, but by planning ahead they can lessen the impact when their credit card bills start rolling in.
Shoppers buying online, spending could be up as much as 10 percent to $117 billion dollars. The research firm BloomReach reports that nearly 50 percent of online shoppers say they'll check out online giant Amazon before making a purchase.

"With the convenience of online shopping comes concern. Because the retailer may not be readily available like a brick and mortar store consumers need to be prepared for online shopping." states Bernas.

Online shopping tips for Cyber Monday:

Shop on trustworthy websites -
Shoppers should start with the BBB to check the seller's Business Review for customer satisfaction at

Always look for the BBB seal on retailer websites and click on the seals to confirm that they are valid.

Protect your personal information -
Take time to read the site's privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If there isn't one posted, it should be taken as a red flag that personal information may be sold to others without permission.

Beware of deals that sound too good to be true -
Offers on websites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Consumers should always go with their instincts and not be afraid to pass up a "deal" that might cost them dearly in the end.

Confirm your online purchase is secure -
Shoppers should always 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.

Pay with a credit card -
It's best to use a credit card, because under Federal law, the shopper can dispute the charges if he or she doesn't receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card, and many card issuers have "zero liability" policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.

Keep documentation of your order - After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by e-mail. The BBB recommends saving a copy of the Web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.

Additionally, Bernas notes, "If you feel you are the victim of an actual scam this holiday season in addition to reporting it to law enforcement officials as also report it to BBB's Scam Tracker at"

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ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.