Just in time for the holiday shopping season, the Federal Trade Commission has 12 practical tips to help you watch your wallet, shop wisely, and protect your personal information.
- Make a shopping list and check it twice. Make sure your budget includes incidentals like cards, wrapping paper, parking, or eating out.
- Consider customer reviews carefully. The law says reviewers should disclose their connection to a company, but not all of them do. Before you buy anything based on a review, search online for information from sources you trust. Compare reviews from a variety of websites.
- If you use mobile apps to shop for deals, be aware of how the apps are paid for, what information they may gather from your device, or who gets that information.
- Giving jewelry? Take some time to learn the terms used in the industry so you can get the best quality and value.
- Make sure the scanned price is right. Overcharges cost you money and time, especially if you don TMt notice them right away.
- Save every receipt. When you TMre shopping online, keep copies of your order number, the refund and return policies, shipping costs and warranties.
- Free can be costly. Screen savers, e-cards, or other free seasonal downloads can carry viruses. Keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and your firewall, current.
- Billed for merchandise that wasn TMt received? Here TMs what to do if you get a bill for merchandise that you " or your Aunt Colleen " never received.
- Treat a gift card like cash. If it TMs lost or stolen, you may be out the whole amount. Report it to the issuer right away.
- If you TMre shopping green, online or off, examine product claims carefully.
- Be stingy when it comes to sharing your personal information. Don TMt give out your credit card or other financial information for a chance at the newest tech toy, free gift card, seasonal job or holiday vacation rental.
Tis the season to be wary, especially of charities that don TMt " or won TMt " provide key information in writing. Look for their mission statement, costs and where the money goes.