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Don't get tricked when making Halloween purchases

 Halloween is usually one of the biggest spending holidays each year, but with pop up shops all over the place, how can you protect yourself?

BBB Wisconsin's Jim Temmer was a special live guest on the CBS 58 News at 4 p.m. says every year, , shoppers report missing or damaged pieces and unclear return policies.

When customers go to exchange or report a problem, the store has packed up and left without a trace or has a “no refund” policy.

• To avoid becoming a victim, BBB recommends consumers buy from companies they are familiar with, research new stores and ask for year-round contact information for seasonal stores.

• Consumers should also save receipts, ask about return policies and remember to use companies that have operated in the community for a number of years and have a good reputation if possible.

• Finally, if the store allows, it is always wise to try on the costume while at the location in order to avoid future problems. In this manner, consumers can be sure that the costume fits well and is complete as advertised on the package.

You can also check the company’s business profile at bbb.org or call our office at 414-847-6000.

"Consider buying from companies that have been around long enough to have a clear track record," says Temmer. "Ask the store how long it plans to occupy the building. If you cannot get an answer, ask to speak with a manager."

Also, see if they have a website in case you need to contact them later. Get the company’s complete address and a phone number.

• Inquire about the return policy in detail.

• Save your receipts and use a credit card. You’ll have the most protection if you must dispute a problem with the card’s issuer.

Buying from website is also popular, but don't venture onto sites you don't know.

Complaints to BBBs regarding websites range from deliveries that were late or never arrived to poor quality and difficulty obtaining refunds. Many retailers do not offer returns on costumes and related items.

"Getting a low price on a costume may seem like a good deal," says Temmber. "But you should examine merchandise carefully before you purchase it."

If you’re buying online, it pays to check a website’s reputation before you place your order Consider shipping schedules if you need an item by a specific date. If you’re buying from a temporary store, ask about return policies before making a purchase.

Be sure you have a thorough understanding of everything involved before placing an order. Be clear on the price and any shipping and handling charges. Know the terms of any product or service guarantees.

Find out how long it will be before you receive your order. Federal law requires that goods and services be delivered within 30 days, unless a different delivery period is specifically stated by the merchant.

Guard your personal information. Only provide your credit card number online in a secure environment. On pages where you enter a credit card number or PayPal account login, look for the prefix “https://” in the URL box listing the website’s address to be sure that the site you are using is secure.

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