Last updated on March 8th, 2023
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is advising consumers to stick to credit cards for purchases this holiday season. The reason for the BBB’s advice is the ever-increasing number of misleading advertisements, lookalike websites, and untrustworthy sellers popping up this year. Here’s how to stay safe when online shopping this holiday season:
Better Business Bureau Tips to Stay Safe With Online Shopping This Holiday Season
Online scams are a reality any time of the year – but the stressors of the holiday season can mean anyone may fall victim to a phishing scam, unregulated seller, or identity thief. To help shoppers stay safe online this holiday season, the BBB has offered a selection of helpful tips when purchasing gifts this year:
Use Your Credit Card
Using a credit card to make purchases is a great way to add an extra layer of security. Credit cards offer additional protections not found with cash – or even debit cards. Most credit cards come with cardholder protections that are standard across payment networks. These features include Zero Fraud Liability, which provides cardholders with the peace of mind that they’ll pay nothing if their card is subject to unauthorized use or theft.
Credit cards also offer the possibility of a chargeback – something not found with debit and prepaid cards. A chargeback is a form of refund where the card issuer refunds the purchase price to a cardholder at the cardholder’s request. Unlike a merchant-initiated refund, chargebacks allow credit cardholders to regain their money from an unscrupulous or dishonest merchant.
“Your credit card has protections built in that if you pay with other non-traditional forms of payment, Venmo or wiring money or anything else that’s non-traditional, you want be able to get your money back if you don’t get your item or if the item doesn’t measure up to what the promise has indicated,” said Nancy Cahalen, president and CEO of the BBB’s Central New England Division.
Shop Only with Trusted Sellers
Always check the security of a website before giving out personal or financial information. Two easy ways to check that a site is safe are by looking for a security certificate (SSL) or through the site’s Better Business Bureau profile.
A site’s SSL certificate lets shoppers know that the website uses multiple layers of security to prevent sensitive information from being stolen. Checking a site’s security is as easy as looking for the lock icon at the top of the browser in the address bar.
Checking a website’s BBB rating is as easy as visiting BBB.org, entering the site name, and scanning ratings and customer reviews. The site’s BBB listing will provide insight into other shoppers’ experiences, including scams and negative interactions.
Keep Your Antivirus Up to Date
Staying safe when shopping online this holiday season isn’t only up to the website. Consumers also need to be proactive about their safety online by ensuring their antivirus software is up to date and working correctly.
Antivirus software, including pop-up blockers, can assist shoppers by helping them to avoid non-secure websites and pop-up phishing scams and help keep personal information safe.
Other BBB Advice
Beyond online safety, the BBB has other useful advice for consumers shopping this holiday season. These tips include:
- Understand return policies: Read the fine print before you buy. Understand the return or exchange policy for the specific item you would like to purchase. Be aware that stores may not allow returns for “final sale” or “closeout” items. Make sure to get gift receipts, so the recipient can return or exchange the item if necessary.
- Take advantage of rewards and loyalty programs: Check your credit card rewards program for special point offers that could add up throughout the holidays.
- Price check before you buy: Dozens of online retailers will claim they have the best price on an item, but their offers can be misleading. Do your homework by comparing prices. Remember that the best deal may not be the real deal.
Related Article: Consumers Seek to Shop Small This Holiday Season