More than 175 million Americans are planning to take part in Halloween festivities this year. The National Retail Federation estimates Americans to spend a whopping $9 billion, with the average consumer spending an estimated $86.79.
From costumes to candy to decorations, Halloween is a huge shopping holiday, which means scammers will have plenty of opportunity to cash in. Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina (BBB) is reminding consumers to use caution when shopping at unfamiliar stores or websites.
“With Halloween being the second largest shopping holiday of the year, consumers are at greater risk to be taken advantage by an unscrupulous business,” says Mallory Wojciechowski, President and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Eastern NC. “Whether you plan to do your shopping online or in person, it is important to do your research ahead of time to ensure you are dealing with a trustworthy company.”
BBB offers consumers the following tips to avoid getting “spooked” this Halloween:
Research store headquarters. If you’re interested in trying a new or unfamiliar online merchant, ask the company for its physical location (address and phone number) so you can check its BBB Business Review at bbb.org;
Review purchase policies. Determine the company’s refund and return policies before you buy. If online companies can’t offer concrete commitments on how they will handle any potential problems you may have with their products or services, reconsider doing business with them;
Ask questions. Be sure you have a thorough understanding of everything involved before placing an order. Be clear on the price, and any shipping and handling charges. Know the terms of any product or service guarantees. Find out how long it will be before you receive your order. Federal law requires that goods and services be delivered within 30 days, unless a different delivery period is specifically stated by the merchant;
Guard your personal information. Only provide your credit card number online in a secure environment. Look for the prefix “https://” in the URL box listing the website’s address to be sure that the site you are using is secure. The “s” in the https means it is a secure site;
Ask how long a store will operate. If you’re buying from a seasonal store, ask whether it will be open after the holiday and whether it will accept returns when the season is over. If not, consider buying elsewhere or taking more time to be sure the item is exactly what you want before making the purchase.