DAYTON, OHIO, November 30, 2011 - With the holiday season upon us, your Better Business Bureau is warning you about Grinches and Scrooges out to take your money by unsavory means. Your BBB sees an increase in financial crimes against consumers, as well as complaints from now until the New Year.
“Giving gifts is an important part of holiday celebrations for many families,” says John North, BBB president and CEO. “You can make the holidays even more enjoyable if you learn how to avoid potential headaches, shop smart and spend wisely.”
Your BBB encourages you to take the following steps to avoid common problems, such as items that can’t be returned, gift cards that can’t be used and orders that never arrive:
· Think twice before clicking links sent via e-mail. These links could lead to viruses and allow Grinches to get your personal and banking information. Check retailers out with your BBB by visiting www.bbb.org or calling (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301. Also, look for your BBB’s logo on Web sites and click on them to confirm their legitimacy.
· Remember criminals and scammers don’t take holidays. Look for and review businesses’ privacy policies before giving out personal information. If shopping online, be sure your computer is updated with anti-spyware, so Grinch fingers can’t get your personal information.
· Keep all receipts and read the fine print. Online businesses are required by law to send products within 30 days unless otherwise stated or return your money. Before crying Grinch, understand refund and exchange policies can differ significantly from one seller to another. Even Santa can’t return a gift if it isn’t identified on the receipt.
· Pay with a credit card, instead of cash. Credit card companies will help dispute charges if you’re scammed or you don’t receive merchandise ordered. Also, review credit card statements often, not just when bills arrive.
· Beware of gift card scams. Con artists can get important numbers from gift cards before they’re purchased by scanning identifying numbers. They visit Web sites and see when gift cards are activated and use them to purchase items. Ask for gift cards behind counters instead of those displayed and use them as soon as possible.
· Don’t leave purchases in plain sight in your vehicle. Thieves take advantage of holidays to break in vehicles and steal purchases. So, either remove purchases from your vehicle or make sure they’re out of sight.
· Verify validities of charities. The sneakiest Scrooges will often adopt similar names to known charities, so make sure you do your research and always make checks payable to charities, not individual solicitors.
· Make a list and check it twice. Often, people will spend more money than intended, so make a list of what you want to spend and keep track of how much you’re spending.
· Check layaway policies. Layaway is an excellent option to pay for merchandise, but make sure you find out all the details, like how much you need to put down, additional fees, when payments are due and return policies, to avoid surprises.
· Know if deals sound too-good-to-be-true, they probably are. When shopping online, there are hundreds of Web sites offering to beat competitors’ deals. Shop around and confirm actual deals. Sometimes, paying less can often cost you more.
Contact your BBB for more advice on being a savvy consumer this holiday season or to check out businesses or charities. Visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.
About Your BBB Serving Dayton and the Miami Valley
Your BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses earning BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. Your BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 126 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring nearly 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Your BBB serving Dayton and the Miami Valley serves Montgomery, Greene, Clark, Darke, Miami, Preble, Shelby and northern Warren counties. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about your BBB.