Black Friday and Cyber Monday tips

Better Business Bureau advice for consumers on one of shopping's biggest days

Now is the time of year to shop till you drop.

However it’s also the time of year where we need to exercise caution when it comes to spending cash and handing over our debit and credit cards to anyone asking for it.

Boxing Day used to be the day but Black Friday and Cyber Monday around American Thanksgiving has become the penultimate shopping weekend; the unofficial start to Christmas shopping. In fact, the sales are now a global phenomenon with countries in Europe taking part.

In our excitement to score the best deal possible we often take unnecessary risks when it comes to our personal information. Better Business Bureau would simply like to use common sense and take your time when hitting the stores starting November 27th.

“With nearly 200 million phishing emails hitting the public globally every day many of those will be in the form of seemingly legit companies,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “There are plenty of spoof sites, fake coupons and scammers ready to take your money. You also want to do your homework. Just because it seems like a great deal, doesn’t mean it really is. Studies have shown that similar deals can be found throughout the year.”

To avoid being taken for a ride when online shopping, consider these tips:

• Always purchase using credit cards, rather than debit cards – this offers recourse 
• Look for spelling mistakes and bad grammar on websites 
• Make sure the URL is legit and not a spoofed version; i.e.: www.ebay.com and not www.ebay1.ml • Use reputable payment portals like PayPal or Verified by Visa 
• Avoid money transfers to unknown people 
• Do not online shop through public Wi-Fi 
• Make sure payment page is secure with HTTPS at the start of the URL 
• Avoid clicking links if you don’t know what it’s from 
• Be wary of slick pop-up ads; go to the company website first

BBB also asks everyone to be good consumers:

• Avoid the impulse buy; Ask yourself: Do you need it? Can you afford it? Did you shop around? 
• Be sure to keep ALL receipts 
• Ask for gift receipts when necessary 
• Ask about store return policies 
• Understand the this time of year stores may not accept returns until January 
• Don’t take advantage of a store is something was priced incorrectly 
• Read the fine print; understand all terms and conditions before purchasing