Calling all shoppers: The holidays are just around the corner. And whether you like to meander through the mall or search for deals online, the FTC has a gift for you — shopping tips to help you watch your wallet, shop wisely, and protect your personal information.
- Make a list and a budget. Include incidentals, like cards, wrapping paper and eating out.
Check out websites that compare prices for items sold online, and at stores in your area.
- Look for rebates. Some can be redeemed at checkout, but most require you to send documentation to the manufacturer to get your rebate.
- Make sure the scanned price is right. Overcharges cost you money and time, especially if you don’t notice them right away.
- Consider customer reviews carefully. The law says reviewers should disclose their connection to a company, but not all of them do. Before you buy anything based on a review, search online for information from sources you trust. Compare reviews from a variety of websites.
- Giving jewelry? Take some time to learn the terms used in the industry so you can get the best quality and value.
- If you use a mobile device or computer to shop for deals, be aware that some unexpected emails, texts or posts may lead to fraudulent sites claiming bargains on brand name products.
- Save receipts. When you’re shopping online, keep copies of your order number, the refund and return policies, shipping costs and warranties.
- Billed for merchandise that wasn’t received? Here’s what to do.
- If money’s tight, consider layaway. You typically make a deposit and pay over time; the retailer holds the merchandise until you’ve paid for the item in full.
by Colleen Tressler
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
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