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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Shop smart on Black Friday

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  • It's typically the busiest shopping day of the year, and is considered to officially launch the holiday gift buying season.
    Black Friday generates millions in revenue for retailers each year, as well as a dash for the best holiday deals among consumers.
    Unfortunately, it can also be the season for scams, and the Better Business Bureau warns consumers to be careful as they head to the stores — or the web — in search of bargains.
    "Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the most popular holiday shopping days of the year," said Denise Groene, state director. "Whether heading to the local malls or shopping online to avoid the large crowds, BBB of Kansas warns buyers to be aware of scammers and hackers."
    Groene recommends you do your research before you shop. If you find a coupon, print it and bring it to the store with you. Compare deals online or on a smart phone to verify you are getting the best price. Sign up for email alerts from your favorite retailers and “like” their Facebook page — you may get a jump on special offers. Also, knowing a store's policies on returns can help you determine where to buy. Many retailers may include restocking fees and shorter return deadlines.
    If you choose to skip the holiday rush and take advantage of Cyber Monday, make sure you are accessing a legitimate retail website before clicking "buy."
    Take time to read the site’s privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used, Groene said. 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. Although offers on websites and in unsolicited e-mails can be tempting — especially when they offer extreme 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 turn out to be a scam.
    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 whether the site is not encrypted.
    It’s best to use a credit card when shopping online, because under federal law, the shopper can dispute the charges if he or she doesn’t receive the item, Groene said. Many card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.
    Page 2 of 2 - Pete Flaming with Everence Financial Advisors in Hesston advises the holiday season is a prime time for identity thieves. Make sure you keep your Social Security number private — the same goes for PINs, account numbers and passwords. Be careful when you share a computer. Make sure you log out of all sites you visit and delete your login or private information. Shred any documents that contain personal information and be cautious when using an ATM.
    After completing an online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or you may 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.
    Want to see if a business has been verified as reputable by the BBB? Visit bbb.org.
    — The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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