Tips for safe shopping during the holidays

Gift receipts: Always ask for a gift receipt. This way, the recipient can return or exchange a gift if it’s not just right.

Warranty information: Inquire about the store’s return policy and warranty information before purchasing. Also, be sure to pass along any information about returns, exchanges, repairs and warranties to the person who will use the item.

Research: Read product reviews, check’s Business Profiles, look at the sales flyers and ads, compare prices, look for early promotions and “flash sales.” For tips on searching online, check out BBB’s Digital IQ.

Mobile security: With so many shoppers using their mobile devices to research and make purchases, it’s important to have a secure device. Be sure you’re using the most up-to-date version of apps and operating system on your phone. Also, actively manage your location services, Bluetooth, microphone and camera — make sure apps use them appropriately as well. Check the app settings to make sure all apps have appropriate access to your information.

Public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi is vulnerable to thieves and fraudsters looking to steal your information. When in stores or restaurants, avoid using banking or other apps that access your sensitive personal information.

E-mail phishing: With all the promotional emails sent during the holidays, scammers will be out in full force. It’s best not to click on links from senders you don’t recognize. Don’t forget to hover your mouse over links without clicking to see if the address is really taking you to where it says it is. Also, check the reply email address. The address should be on a company domain.

Interest-based advertising: As you browse the web or use your favorite store’s app, you might notice ads personalized to you, sometimes based on your previous web searches. This is called Interest-Based Advertising, which is often signaled by Ad Choices in the corners of ads. If you want to opt out of receiving this type of advertising, download the AppChoices app or visit for information on how to opt-in and out of certain ads.

Back up your data: Have an online backup option in case your device is attacked by hackers. You don’t want to lose all your family’s information and memories.

Look out for scams: If you suspect a scam, check out BBB Scam Tips to learn more ( or report scams to BBB Scam Tracker (

Charity disclosure: Check out to find BBB Accredited Charities that have fully disclosed information to BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Although participation is voluntary, you may want to be cautious of charities that don’t disclose requested information to BBB.

What’s in a name: Be on the lookout for name similarities. Dubious charities often pick a name that sounds like a more famous charity. Before you give, be sure you have the exact name of the charity you want to support. Learn more about charitable giving at

Give a guide: Request a free holiday issue of the BBB Wise Giving Guide to be sent to a friend or family member this giving season. The guide features evaluation results for thousands of charities. Simply email with “Free Guide” in the subject line and a name and address of where you’d like the guide to be sent.


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