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Common Cents with the BBB: Save Time, Stress and Money on Black Friday

Millions of people will head out in a search for bargains on Black Friday, which has become one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
MIDLAND -- Millions of people will head out in a search for bargains on Black Friday, which has become one of the busiest shopping days of the year. If you're planning to fight the crowds this Friday in search of gifts for your loved ones, Better Business Bureau has these tips to help consumers save time, stress and money on this busy shopping week.

BBB Tips:

1. Create a budget. Know whom you are buying gifts for and how much you are willing to spend. As you buy gifts, keep track of the cost and avoid impulse purchases to prevent over-spending.

2. Research products. Just because an item is in high-demand and being offered at a low price, doesn't mean the product is worthwhile or right for you. Thoroughly research any product you're interested in purchasing to see how it is performing in the marketplace.

3. Don't be misled by tricky advertisements. Read the fine print on all advertised sales to make sure you are truly saving money, and bring the ad with you. Watch for discrepancies in advertised prices and the prices on the shelf. Verify the real price before checking out.

4. Ask about return policies. Many stores have a 30-day return policy, but it is important to read the terms and conditions associated with each purchase. And remember that the refund policy usually applies to the day you purchase the item not when you give the item as a gift.

5. Think twice about store credit cards. Some retailers will offer additional savings to incentivize consumers to sign up for their credit card. However, these cards often times carry high interest rates or annual fees. If you do not plan on shopping at a particular retailer very often, the credit card might not be financially beneficial for you.

Millions more will skip the long lines and make their Christmas purchases online on Cyber Monday. Unfortunately, that convenience comes with risk. Better Business Bureau warns shoppers to beware of unregulated vendors who can turn online shopping from a convenience into a major headache.

1. Shop only on Trustworthy Web Sites. Be certain the web site is secure for taking payments before inputting your information. Check that the web site begins with https. The 'S' indicates the site is secure.

2. Beware of Phishing. If you receive an email claiming problems with an order and asks for personal information do not click on any links or provide an personal information.

3. Pay with Credit card. This provides you with additional protection should you not receive your item or have some other dispute.

4. Verify Shipping. Pay close attention to the estimated delivery date to ensure you will get your items on time.

5. Keep your Anti -virus software up to date. Identity thieves bread and butter are consumers who shop online, but don't keep their anti-virus software up to date.

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