3OYS: BBB tips for smart holiday shopping

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

GLENDALE, Ariz -- The holiday shopping frenzy is almost upon us and many shoppers are excited for the big sales.

At Tanger Outlets in Glendale and at stores across the Valley, retailers are lowering prices to lure you in. But Myriam Cruz of the Phoenix Better Business Bureau has a warning: Don't let the appeal of Black Friday get you in trouble. "Enthusiasm for Black Friday is at its all-time highest in eight years."

Bargains can certainly get consumers inside stores. But experts say that the main thing is to stay focused. One rule of thumb, Cruz says, is make a list for people you want to buy for in order to avoid impulse purchases; "Experts say the Black Friday hype is just that: hype. So the deals will be available throughout the season."

Gift cards are another popular choice, although some shoppers we talked to say that they are too impersonal. "We’d rather have something that the person can open up and say aw, wow, is that something neat," she says.

But if you're in the market for a gift card, the BBB says make sure you avoid buying them from secondary sources. "Avoid buying gift cards from individuals such as advertising gift cards on Craigslist or maybe eBay. Try to go directly to the retailer to buy the gift cards just because you want to make sure the gift card is legitimate, that they're activated."

And when it comes to online shopping, avoid public Wi-Fi. You don't want someone hacking your information. Cruz says use only secure encrypted sites; "Most consumers are making purchases for the holiday so they know they're a little bit more active and their information might be a little more accessible if they don't safeguard their information."