How to Protect Yourself from Getting Ripped Off This Holiday Season


By: Customer’s Poet

Sales Sales and more Sales.

The holidays are in full effect and staying ahead of the game when it comes to holiday shopping should be a part of the plan. Yet, how do you know if you’re getting the best deal or not. Here are some tips to know if that sale is really a sale or just bait to get you in the door.

Ignore flash sales

According to Fortune Magazine, retailers know that when they set the stage for deal-of-the-day promotions or hours-long “flash sales,” we feel immense pressure to buy by using our fear of missing out. Yet, flash sales are no different from run-of-the-mill sales, except they are designed to create a false sense of urgency. When you buy an item on impulse, you’re likely gaining little from the purchase if you consider the item’s actual price.

Plan ahead

With all the sales going on, it’s hard to know if you’re getting the best deal or not. To combat this, do your homework. Review ads carefully for the products you want and compare deals. Be sure you know if there are limited quantities, if the sale price is valid only during certain hours, or if other terms and conditions apply. And don’t forget about the important things when it comes to big ticket purchases like insurances and warranties. As all of these things matter regarding the total cost.

Keep your receipts

Always keep your receipts when it comes to holiday purchases as you never know when you’ll need them. It’s best to have your own copies of a sale including receipts, sales agreements, contracts, advertisements (if necessary), or other documentation of a sale.

Monitor your accounts

During this holiday season, please regularly check your credit card, bank accounts, and financial accounts i.e. Paypal, for unauthorized charges or unexpected activity. If you find problems, immediately notify your credit card provider or bank. The sooner you identify a problem, the better.

Retail Shopping

Learn the return policies of the retailers

Not all retailers are equal. So before you make that purchase, know the policy for returning an item. Some retailers offer gift receipts which are excellent for exchanging gifts for store credit without needing the original sales receipt.

Gift cards or no gift cards

While gift cards can be an excellent way of giving gifts, it can actually be less effective than purchasing a gift yourself. Considering you don’t know where your loved ones shop on a regular basis, if you don’t know what to buy them, the best gift to give them is cash. Remember cash is king. So why not take that $20 plus tax that you’re spending on a gift card and just give them the money. Easy peasy!


According to the Norwalk Reflector, layaway plans let you pay in installments before you buy an item outright. Before signing up, check the plan’s details. Look for any initiation or service fees, the length of the plan, when payments are due, and whether you can get your money back if you cancel. Also, find out what happens if an item on layaway goes on sale or if there are certain days when layaway is not available.

Online/ Mobile shopping

When it comes to online or mobile shopping, safety is the key. Consider these tips to protect your financial credit and personal identity.

Use secure websites and apps only

Always use secure websites. Look for websites that begin with “https” instead of just “http.” As “s” stands for secure. You also may see a lock symbol to indicate the website has security features. Also, if you are concerned about your privacy and security while browsing online, consider using a private browsing option. Most Internet browsers offer this feature.

When it comes to apps, not all are secure or authentic. For this reason, use official app stores to download apps, and even then, double check the source of the app. Before downloading an app, be sure you are comfortable with the “permissions” it may require you to provide.

In addition to using a secure site/ app, use a credit card for online purchases. Most credit cards offer certain consumer protections that aren’t offered by using any other form of payment ie debit cards, electronic checks.

Avoid unknown attachments or links

Avoid clicking on links or attachments you’re not familiar with unless you’re sure they’re safe. Scammers have found creative ways to replace links. Aside from potentially having your identity stolen, you can download a malicious software or lock yourself out of your accounts.

Check delivery dates

Expected delivery dates or just that. Expected. Even after reviewing the expected delivery date and shipping costs before you make a purchase, allow for a few days cushion. As things happen during the holiday season. Find out whether you will have to pay shipping or restocking fees if you return the product. When things deliver, please pick up delivered packages ASAP. It’s the holiday season and you don’t want your gifts to end up under another person’s Christmas tree.

If we take the time to educate ourselves to be aware of potential problems, we can minimize the risk.

Should you or anyone you know feel they have been victimized by a company, follow the steps on or your local consumer protection agency.

As always be smart, be savvy, and equip.

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