Holiday sales are starting early this year as shoppers are looking for a great bargain or a jump start on their seasonal gift-giving. Be careful before buying from an unfamiliar source, website, or online market user. Consider checking reviews online to see if there are any red flags. Read the terms and fine print for the seller’s policies. Remember that certain electronic payments may not have buyer protections, so be cautious when purchasing from someone you don’t know. A credit card payment will typically give you the most protection in an online transaction because you may be able to dispute charges. Check your cardholder or other payment processor terms to see what benefits or restrictions they may have.
While gift cards may be high on your list for giving to friends and loved ones, remember not to give them to scammers! If someone calls demanding payment by gift card, you are likely getting scammed. Some common types of scams demanding gift cards include “grandparent” scams and IRS/Social Security imposter scams. Learn more about common scams.
If you are thinking of giving back to charity this year, you can search for causes you care about and find out more about charitable organizations through these sites: GuideStar, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, and CharityWatch. You can also check for online reviews and complaints about a particular charity. If you choose to give through an online giving portal, make sure you understanding where your money goes, fees associated, and who will receive your information. Keep a record of your donations and review your statements to make sure you did not unknowingly sign up for a recurring payment.
For more information on holiday buying and giving, visit the FTC’s website.