How to Shop Safe This Holiday Season, Online and In-Store

Make sure you know what scams to watch out for when shopping online this holiday season. (©Kite_rin/Shutterstock)

By Jennifer McKee

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are predicted to spend slightly under $1,000 this holiday season—slightly less than in 2019—when shopping for friends and family.

And due to the ongoing pandemic and the need for social distancing while shopping, the usual crush of holiday crowds is also expected to decrease.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you can let your guard down. Just as you want to be hyper-aware of your surroundings while in the mall or taking your packages to the car, use that same vigilance when shopping online. The Better Business Bureau reports that there has been a sharp increase this year in online purchase scams since COVID started.

Some things to be on the lookout for:

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your gut and this time-proven adage.

Beware of fake websites. Check the URL and watch for bad grammar, research the age of the domain, search for contact information and read online reviews.

Don’t make quick purchases when scrolling social media. Scammers can access tools to learn about your buying habits, and offer you exactly what you want at low prices.

Shipment tracking information can be faked. Look closely to make sure you are patronizing a legitimate business. Don’t click on the tracking link; instead, go to the shipper’s website and type in the code to see if it’s real.

Find more tips on the BBB’s website; if you think you’ve encountered a scam, report it here.

If you do decide to venture out, be sure to park in a well-lighted spot as close as possible to your destination that’s not obscured by buildings or trees, don’t walk to or from your car distracted (put the cell phone away) and always be aware of your surroundings. Here are a few products that can help:

Finders Key Purse (©Alexx, Inc.)

Finders Key Purse. Never lose your keys again—attach the clasp to your key ring, then rest the hook on the purse’s edge with your keys inside the purse. Voila! An attractive way to dress up your purse and have your keys ready to go.

Just of few of Bangle & Baby’s many colors and designs. (©Bangle & Babe)

Bangle & Babe. Another fashion statement, this one for your wrist: Attach your keychain via the clasp and wear these pretty bangles on your wrist to always keep your keys close. Tons of colors and styles are available to make it uniquely yours.

Maglite’s City Life Kit. Keep some light on the subject with these powerful options from Maglite. The City Life Kit comes in nine colors and includes a Mini Maglite Pro LED and a Solitaire LED. Keep one in your purse and one on your keychain—the Mini has a beam distance of two football fields and has a run time of two hours and 30 minutes; the Solitaire can beam out to 50 yards and has a run time of an hour and 45 minutes.

Maglite’s City Life Kit. (©Maglite)

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