Consumer Advocates: Shop Safe Online as Holiday Season Kicks Off

Suzanne Potter, Nevada News Service

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CARSON CITY, Nev. – About 20 percent of all online sales for 2018 are expected to take place in the next few days, so consumer groups have some tips to protect people from scams over Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.

Hear an audio report from Suzanne Potter …

Last year Americans spent more than $6.5 billion on the Monday after Thanksgiving alone.

Timothy Johnston, vice president for outreach with the Better Business Bureau of Nevada, says if you are going to give out personal information online such as your credit card number, there are certain clues that indicate the site is more secure.

“Make sure it is https and also has that little lock icon in your web browser to make sure that the transaction is being encrypted,” he advises. “Also shop with a credit card, because if there happens to be any issues, the credit card typically provides a bit more protection for you as a consumer than, say, a debit card that is linked to your bank account.”

Experts say it’s important to read the site’s return policy, which may change during the holidays or vary from types of items within the same website.

You can check out any online business before you shop by looking at its rating on BBB.org.

Giving Tuesday is a newer tradition – one that raised $274 million for charity in 2017.

Johnston says you should scrutinize the web address for irregularities to avoid scam sites that are trying to mimic a legitimate nonprofit group.

“If you’re not familiar with this organization, have never given to it, do your due diligence,” he urges. “Check them out at Give.org. And that’s a site of BBB’s that you can see if this organization has been evaluated and meets all 20 standards for charity accountability. ”

Johnston also advises people to be wary of sites that try to manipulate you with emotional appeals, and of people who ask for in-person, on-the-spot donations.