Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana encourages shoppers to “shop safe, shop smart” this holiday season

Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana encourages shoppers to “shop safe, shop smart” this holiday season

Holiday shopping often means crowded stores, long lines and the inevitable last-minute rush to find just the right gift for that special someone on your holiday list. With shoppers expected to spend nearly $1000 on friends and family this holiday season, there is much to get done, and never enough time. With the pressure of trying to check items off on your shopping list while staying safe during the pandemic, it’s no wonder that many are planning to do their holiday shopping online this year.

Though there are more reasons than ever before to shop virtually, shopping online carries its own risks, particularly during the holiday season. That’s why the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana has published their list of suggestions to help keep your information safe and secure while shopping online.

Director of Communications for the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Northern Indiana, Nichole Hacha-Thomas, suggests that consumers should begin their holiday shopping with a trip to www.bbb.org to research businesses and ensure that they are credible and legitimate.

“The Better Business Bureau is a great place to start, because visitors to our website can see if businesses are accredited,” Thomas said. “You can trust that those retailers are committed to maintaining certain standards of trust. This helps to make consumers aware of some of the scams out there right now, and helps them to protect themselves from being scammed. 

“Retailers stand on a position of trust and ethics,” said Thomas. “It’s all about educating shoppers to be better, smarter consumers by doing their research in advance. Things like checking in advance to see if businesses are reputable, or if websites are legitimate before you make a purchase through them, checking to make sure that the product that they are advertising is legitimate. Many problems that shoppers encounter can be avoided by doing a bit of research beforehand.”

The BBB holds ratings on businesses, and whether or not those businesses hold BBB accreditation, according to Thomas.

“If we have a file on a business, they have a rating. You can have an A+ rating and not be accredited, but those businesses may not hold to our standards of trust,” Thomas said. 

“To become accredited, businesses must pass several checklists to ensure that the owners of those businesses are reputable and that those companies have no governmental or state actions against them. They must also be established, by being in business for at least a year, and must have no complaints against them.”

And that’s just the beginning. Once they achieve BBB accreditation, businesses must consistently work to maintain that accreditation.

Thomas said that the goal is to ensure that consumers can shop in confidence, not just during the holiday season, but year-round as well.

“It’s all about trust. Especially with contractors and small businesses. If you’re going to be letting people into your home, you want to make sure that they are trustworthy,” Thomas said.

“BBB-accredited businesses are focused on putting the customer first.”

For more help in safely navigating this holiday shopping season, check out the BBB’s list of suggestions at https://www.bbb.org/holiday-tips