Are you shopping smart?

Published 3:49 pm Friday, November 24, 2017

Once the turkey’s put away, thoughts gravitate toward the next holiday — and the shopping it entails.

As during each year, there are plenty of people who use the holiday season to take advantage of naïve shoppers, both online and in person. It can be more than disappointing to find out a gift in the wrong size can’t be returned or the purchase of a present through a bogus website has led to credit card fraud.

The Better Business Bureau serving eastern North Carolina is warning people to shop smart this year and be proactive when it comes to protecting one’s interests — and wallet.

“The holiday shopping season can be hectic and overwhelming for a lot of consumers,” Mallory Wojciechowski, president and CEO of the BBB serving eastern North Carolina, wrote in an email. “Even with all the chaos going on, it is extremely important that shoppers make sure they are doing business with legitimate companies and avoid the scammers out there that trying to capitalize on the busiest shopping season of the year.”

When shopping online, make sure the seller is a legitimate business by checking on the seller’s business profile for customer satisfaction on the Better Business website, at, or look for the BBB seal on websites. Use the “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” test when unsolicited emails offer extremely low prices. Always look for the “s” of “https://…” as well as a lock icon in the address box of a website to ensure a website, and therefore personal information, is encrypted. Pay with a credit card, because charges can be disputed if items aren’t delivered or unauthorized charges show up on a bill. Finally, keep documentation of an order by taking a screen shot of the order confirmation page, as well as keeping any emailed receipts.

For in-store shopping, BBB recommends knowing return policies, as some stores charge restocking fees and have short return deadlines. Print out coupons and bring them to the store so the cost of an on-sale item can’t be disputed at checkout, and ask for gift receipts for proof of purchase so the gift-getter can more easily return or exchange a gift if needed.

Don’t let the joy seep out of Christmas because of bad business. Shop smart this holiday season.