• 73°

BBB tips: Halloween shopping during pandemic

RALEIGH — Shopping for Halloween should be fun — not terrifying. This year is going to be different than ever before, and Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina offers the following tips to avoid getting spooked by scammers this Halloween.

Last year, 25% of consumers participating in Halloween shopped for costumes online, but with the current pandemic, that number is expected to rise dramatically. Candy companies are already expecting 20% of consumers to order candy or pick it up curbside.

“Year to date, we’ve seen over $30,000 locally and nearly $100,000 across the state reported lost to online purchasing scams, so it’s more important than ever for consumers to be vigilant to protect their money and personal information online,” said Mallory Wojciechowski, president and CEO of BBB serving Eastern North Carolina. “Better Business Bureau is here to equip consumers with information on how they can shop smart this Halloween, and throughout the upcoming holiday shopping season.”

BBB consumer tips for Halloween:

  • Shop with legitimate websites. Make sure you are shopping on a secure website by confirming the URL starts with “https” and includes a lock symbol. The S in “https” stands for secure. Look up the website’s privacy policy and contact information. If it is not clearly listed, or they only have an email as the point of contact, take that as a big red flag and shop elsewhere.
  • Shop with a credit card instead of debit cards. Credit cards not only provide additional protection, but it’s also easier to dispute a fraudulent charge.
  • Look around your home. Before you head out to your nearest Halloween store or shop online, check what items you have in your home. You may find an old costume you can repurpose, or Halloween decorations you can put out. Doing this will not only help you save money, but you won’t end up with more than you need.
  • Look for sales. Compare prices on Halloween costumes and decorations from various retail or online stores. Along with comparing prices, look for coupons and sign up for email alerts. This will help you get the best deals, saving you a nice chunk of change.
  • Always check the return policy. Whether you are shopping in a store or online, always make sure you are clear on the store’s return policy before you buy. Remember: Buying a bunch of stuff with the intent of simply returning it after Oct. 31 is considered fraud.
  • Beware of seasonal stores. If you decide to shop from a seasonal store, ask whether or not they will be open after the holiday, how long they plan to stay open, and if they will accept returns after Halloween is over. If they plan to close up shop Nov. 1, or refuse returns after, either consider shopping elsewhere or take more time to be sure that item is exactly what you want before making the purchase.

Additional consumer resources for shopping smart — including tips, scam alerts and business profile — are available at bbb.org.

Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit corporation serving 33 counties in eastern North Carolina. The organization is funded primarily by BBB Accredited Business fees from more than 4,000 local businesses and professional firms. BBB promotes integrity, consumer confidence and business ethics through business self-regulation in the local marketplace. Services provided by BBB include reports on companies and charitable organizations, general monitoring of advertising in the marketplace, consumer/business education programs and dispute resolution services. All services are provided at no cost to the public, with the occasional exception of mediation and arbitration.