Black Friday is one the busiest shopping days of the year as consumers are looking for the best deals to fulfill their holiday gift needs. In all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, consumers become rushed, which can make them easy prey for scammers.

This year brings changes that could influence upcoming holiday shopping. Hiring challenges for retailers, expected global supply chain disruptions, and other economic factors could have a significant impact on how people shop. Confusion and scarcity can leave the door wide open for scammers.

To make the most of Black Friday deals, it’s recommended to start with a game plan by developing a list of the items you’re shopping for. Use sale flyers and online promotions to decide which store has the best price. But remember, price should never be the only factor in your purchase, because scammers often offer fake products at rock-bottom prices to lure in shoppers.

Be sure to set a Black Friday a budget and stick with it before heading out. Going into the day with a plan and a vision takes out the guesswork, making consumers less vulnerable to scams.

Use BBB’s tips to shop Black Friday deals:

  • Plan out the excursion. Sometimes it’s not necessary to wait to see what deals will be offered on Black Friday. Retailers often will release Black Friday flyers weeks ahead of time, so consumers can plan out their shopping spree. Make a map of the stores to visit and what items are at which store.
  • Sign-up for email alerts. Many stores release their best Black Friday deals and exclusive coupons to people who have subscribed to their emails. Sign up ahead of the holiday season, and then unsubscribe afterwards if needed.
  • Read the fine print. Some retailers may offer an additional percentage off the purchase, but could exclude certain deals or items such as “door busters.” Watch for companies boasting a high percentage off; the item may be “75% off,” but the original price could be inflated. Carefully check the price tags, terms, and conditions. Research online using a secure wifi connection to check if competitors have the item at a better price.
  • Do your research. Read product reviews on extremely discounted items. It could be a cheaper model or brand advertised, and not what was expected. Check BBB.org for Business Profiles of the stores and read what other customers have experienced.
  • Know the return policy and warranty information. Pass along any information about returns, exchanges, repairs, and warranties to the person who will use the item. Gift receipts are an easy way for recipients to return or exchange a gift if it’s not just right, but make sure the item can be returned before purchasing.

For more tips from BBB, visit BBB.org. And if you spot a scam, whether you’ve lost money or not, report it to BBB’s Scam Tracker at BBB.org/ScamTracker and the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Your story can help other consumers avoid similar scams.

Marjorie Stephens is president/CEO of BBB Serving Northern Indiana.

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