Holiday shopping Dos and Don’ts


The holiday season can be hard on your wallet. Here are some consumer protection tips to help you spend wisely and safely.

  • Avoid impulse buys.
  • Have a plan and a budget and keep track of all purchases.
  • Pay in cash whenever you can. It’s easier to overspend when you use credit than when you pay with cash.
  • If you do use credit, brush up on your card’s fees and charges so you know the real costs.
  • Don’t focus too heavily on discounts.
  • Comparison shop. Just because something is marked as a sale doesn’t mean it’s the best available price.
  • Read online consumer reviews – both for retailers and for products
  • Check your bank and credit card statements frequently.
  • Read the fine print on return and exchange policies.
  • Don’t open packages – especially electronics – if you know you will return the item.
  • Keep receipts
  • Avoid costly extended warranties
  • Beware of bogus “gift cards.” While gift cards now have certain consumer protections, prepaid cards and reloadable debit cards – particularly those aimed at teens – may carry high fees.
  • Check your credit cards to see if they offer any added consumer protections or warranty boosters – if so, you might consider using for a large purchase.
  • Watch shipping fees, which can add up. Many retailers offer free or reduced price shipping
  • When shopping online, only shop at secure sites. At checkout, look for the web page to have https:// (with an “s”) instead of https:// in the address.
  • Don’t conduct business over public wi-fi lines, which are not secure. Avoid using your credit card or doing banking when using public networks.
  • Be careful about e-mail phishing. It’s better to go directly to the vendor or banker’s site directly to check out any offers.
  • Question everything and consider bargaining. Ask if there are any promos or deals.
  • Check for special discounts, such as for senior citizens, AAA members, AARP members
  • Consider making your holiday gifts. Homemade gifts can be more personal and can save money.
  • Ask about free boxes and free wrapping, which can save a bundle.
  • Store any packages or shopping bags in your car trunk to avoid theft.