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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is offering consumers tips on avoiding identity theft and other scams on “Black Friday,” the Friday after Thanksgiving that officially kicks off the Holiday shopping season, and “Cyber Monday,” the following Monday that is one of the biggest days of the year for online sales.

Black Friday is the single busiest shopping day of the year. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), nearly 140 million shoppers spent $50.9 billion on Black Friday in 2014 and plan to spend more on family members in 2015. The BBB offers these tips for shopping this Black Friday, November 27, 2015:

  • Learn about advertising tricks and gimmicks. The new BBB #AdTruth campaign highlights bad ads and helps shoppers learn to identify the most common identity theft schemes and cons.
  • Do your research. Read product reviews, compare prices, and look for early promotions and “flash sales.” For tips on searching online, check out the new BBB Digital IQ project.
  • Read the fine print. Some stores only honor sale ads during a certain time frame or on certain days. Some stores may only allow shoppers to purchase one item.
  • Know the advertiser. Some of the best deals are only available online it is easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer so make sure to shop with a legitimate website to avoid identity theft.
  • Sign-up for email alerts. Many stores release Black Friday deals to people who signed up emails but shoppers should make sure it is the real business and not an identity theft scammer.
  • Ask for gift receipts and save warranty information. A gift receipt allows the recipient to return or exchange a gift if it is not just right and pass along any warranties to the recipient.

The NRF expects online sales this holiday season to reach $105 billion, and many retailers will be offering huge discounts and special offers on Cyber Monday. The BBB offers these tips when making online transactions during the holiday season, especially on this Cyber Monday, November 30, 2015:

  • Test your “Digital IQ.” Get ready for Cyber Monday by taking the BBB 12-question quiz that helps shoppers learn about managing their digital privacy and protecting against identity theft.
  • Be a savvy shopper. When shopping online, shoppers should take their time, read the fine print before submitting orders, and look for the return policy during the holidays.
  • Know the advertiser. Some of the best deals are only available online it is easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer so make sure to shop with a legitimate website to avoid identity theft.
  • Trust but verify. When shopping online, shoppers should use retail websites that they trust and use common sense to avoid deals that seem “too good to be true.”
  • Use anti-virus software. To ensure their personal information is safe from identity theft, shoppers should use up-to-date anti-virus software on their computer or mobile device.
  • Shop with a credit card. A credit card provides shoppers with additional protections over a debit card in case of fraudulent transactions such as identity theft.
  • Make sure websites are secure. Only share personal information and credit card number with websites that begin with https:// since the extra “s” stands for a secure website.
  • Be careful of phishing scams. Clicking on unfamiliar links in an email that appears from familiar looking retailers can place shoppers at risk for malware and identity theft.

As reported earlier on the ESR News Blog, an estimated 17.6 million people in the United States – or about 7 percent of U.S. residents age 16 or older – were victims of at least one incident of identity theft in 2014, according to the Victims of Identity Theft 2014 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

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© 2015 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.


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