BBB warning about pitfalls of Black Friday, Cyber Monday

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois, spoke to ABC7 about the pitfalls of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.


Even though some retailers have changing attitudes regarding Black Friday and Cyber-Monday, millions of shoppers are expected to hit the stores and/or go online in search of bargains they hope will save them hundreds of dollars. For many consumers it has become a tradition shopping the Friday and Monday after Thanksgiving; but armed with that knowledge, scammers who wish to take advantage of harried shoppers will be waiting. Whether shopping at a local store or online, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns buyers to be alert for scammers and hackers looking to benefit from early holiday cheer.

"Everyone is looking for a deal but consumers need to make sure those deals are real, said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "Whether you are online or in a store consumers should take steps to protect themselves."

"A study done by shows that the prices advertised as Black Friday deals can often be found for the same price at other times of the year, which negates any real deal" stated Bernas.

The BBB president also noted "shoppers should also be aware some of those special prices can only be achieved after the buyer sends in the mail-in rebate and then may wait weeks for the refund."

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 Store 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.

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 selecting "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.

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