I absolutely love the holidays. The warmth of a house full of family, the smells of wonderful food and the sight of beautiful decorations.
I still remember what Christmas was like for me as a child, and now I look forward to experiencing Christmas morning at my parents with my 11 nieces and nephews. To maintain my “Funcle” (Fun Uncle) status, I spend lots of time online looking for that perfect gift for the little niece and nephew minions in my family.
I am not the only one shopping either. Even during a worldwide pandemic, the National Retail Federation (NRF) projects holiday spending this year to increase by as much as 5.2% over 2019. That’s a difference of about $26 billion. For context, Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla, has an estimated net worth of just a few billion more than that amount.
Before you jump behind that keyboard to complete your holiday shopping list, the Better Business Bureau wants you to consider if those quick clicks are putting your financial and personal information at risk.
One of the major dangers of online shopping is misleading advertisements. As we search for that amazing deal, it’s easy to be lured by these fake ads. Too often they lead to counterfeit merchandise or consumers being left empty-handed. Another way these advertisements trap you is mimicking ads from major retailers that lead to false websites.
Fake ads can be combatted by keeping your antivirus software up to date. Adding these safeguards also helps you avoid any non-secure websites and phishing scams, keeps your personal information safe and bypasses ransomware. If you use a mobile device to shop online, you can even download security apps that increase protection and provide antivirus defense straight to your phone.
According to a recent study from the NRF, Americans will spend an average of $998 during the holiday season, not including the cost of travel. So, as you spend your holiday budget, BBB recommends making online purchases with your credit card. If any shady charges turn up later, it’s easier to contest them through your credit card company. Most debit cards do not offer this same protection, and those that do often put the burden on the consumer to sort and prove which charges are theirs and which are not.
Also, just in case Grandma doesn’t love that antique bird feeder, there’s some things you need to know ahead of time. Definitely read the return policies so you understand how to return items purchased online and learn what costs are involved, including any re-stocking fees, shipping and handling costs, etc. Also, if you bought an item during a special sale, you may only have a few days to return it.
Following these simple tips will help make your holiday season merry and bright. For more tips from the Better Business Bureau head to trust-bbb.org.