BBB tips to avoid holiday advertising scams


By John North - Contributing columnist



Black Friday weekend in 2019 consumers spent over $68 billion between retailers, online and brick and mortar stores. Cyber Monday hit a record of over $9 billion in 2019 and is expected to go even higher this year with COVID-19. The pandemic has many consumers shopping online instead of in-store. No matter how you shop, carefully review advertising claims.

The Better Business Bureau offers tips for navigating advertising claims this holiday season:

• Look out for false advertisements and phony websites. Deals can be too good to be true. Check web addresses because scammers make look-alike sites to trick you. Also, check for spelling, customer reviews and a customer service phone number.

• Companies should be able to show proof of claims. Claims to watch out for are “best,” “most,” “lowest price” and other superlative claims.

• Be cautious of percentage off claims. Stores will claim an item is a percentage off, but is it off the original manufacturer’s price or the store’s price.

• Credit financing offers should be clearly and conspicuously stated in ads as the Federal Truth in Leading Act requires.

• “Save up to” claims dealing with groups of items should state the minimum and maximum savings.

• Understand the word “free” doesn’t always mean it. Sometimes there are hidden fees like paying for shipping. If there is an additional cost, it should be clearly stated in the terms and conditions.

• Some companies may claim to be licensed, but in reality, they aren’t licensed for the type of work you think. Confirm and verify licensing.

• Carefully consider “while supplies last” claims. There may only be a certain number of the particular product available.

• Use credit cards when purchasing especially online. It is easier to dispute a charge on your credit card if you fall for a misleading advertisement.

• Confirm lifetime warranty claims. Rarely does it mean the lifetime of the customer.

Research and compare prices to help you get the best deal and to avoid falling victim to misleading advertising. You can also learn more about truth in advertising at bbb.org.

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By John North

Contributing columnist

The writer is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and Miami Valley.

The writer is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and Miami Valley.