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Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday. Between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas morning, Americans will spend millions, if not billions on holiday shopping. And between the in-store crowds and online fraud, Americans are set to lose a lot of money as well.
So here are three of our best tips for keeping holiday shopping safe, from our archives:
You want to be sure the goods you get and gifts you give are legit. While most brand-name imitations will only hurt your wallet, knock-off cosmetics can cause serious health problems and counterfeit electronics can present fire and data hazards. So if you can't go to the source for your holiday shopping, make sure the websites you're using sell the genuine article, and are secure.
While you're entering your personal contact and financial information into an online store's payment pages, are you sure no one else can see it? First and foremost, you should always look for "https" in the URL to ensure that portion of the website is secure. And you may want to run anti-virus software on your own home network and steer clear of public Wi-Fi that lacks password protection. In the end, however, some of our largest retailers get hacked, leaking our private information -- so you may want to consider whether getting an online discount is really a deal at all.
Speaking of deals, what happens if it turns out those bargains weren't so unbeatable after all? Retailers, sadly, aren't above taking advantage of the holiday shopping spirit with some bait-and-switch advertising, lies about low-price guarantees, and bogus buy-one-get-one offers. Luckily, the Federal Trade Commission outlaws deceptive business practices, so you may have some recourse for a holiday deal that magically disappears.
If you think your identity, financial information, or wallet have been ripped off while holiday shopping, contact a local attorney to discuss your legal options.