Jacqueline Schendel

Jacqueline Schendel.

As we enter into one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year, Better Business Bureau Area Manager Jacqueline Schendel warned that shoppers need to be on alert to protect their wallets from scams and overpaying for products.

Schendel said according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the average consumer spent $313 from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. This year, the NRF is expecting consumers to spend even more in November and December, with total spending anywhere between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion. And while shoppers will be looking for deals, scammers will be looking for steals.

At a recent Cullman Chamber of Commerce event, she provided some tips on avoiding scams - such as be on the lookout for false advertising and phony website - and advised shoppers to check bbb.org to make sure the company is a BBB accredited company.

Shoppers planning to head out on Black Friday should know what their budget is and stick to it, said Schendel. She suggested they plan out their shopping in advance and sign up for email alerts on items they’re specifically looking for. When comparing items in stores, she said shoppers should make sure the items they’re comparing are identical in each location. Sometimes a lower-priced item may not be exactly like the higher-priced item. In addition, she advised, “Especially if you’re giving a gift, get a gift receipt and know what the store’s return policy is.” 

While it’s good to shop local, some items are more readily available online. But, Schendel warns, if a company is selling the hottest item of the year at a price too good to be true, it probably is.

She said scammers are getting more and more sophisticated in their abilities to dupe consumers. Some tactics include email phishing, where an email looks like it comes from a trusted source, but it’s actually an attempt to get credit card or banking information, and websites that look legitimate, but when you hover the mouse over the address, it is not the actual business website address. 

“If you suspect a scam, check out our Scam Tips or report it to our Scam Tracker,” said Schendel. While the BBB is not an enforcement agency, it does try to work with them, she said. In addition, when people report scam attempts, it can help others from becoming victims.

“It’s like in sports,” she said. “The best defense is a good offense.”

She also recommended that people go to give.org before giving money to a charity soliciting for donations. “A lot of times, they’re playing on the name of a legitimate charity,” she said.

Amy Henderson can be reached at 256-734-2131 Ext. 116.

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