BBB Tip: Safe Online Holiday Shopping for Parents

This year has been unpredictable to say the least. The Covid-19 pandemic has upturned everything, and holiday shopping is no exception. Most shoppers are skipping the stores and heading online to purchase gifts.

While most parents have done at least some of their holiday shopping online in the past, this may be the first time you’ve decided to do all, or at least the majority, of your gift purchases for your children online.

How can you get your holiday shopping done safely and efficiently? The following tips, some of which were collected from tips provided by the BBB National Programs’ Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) team, will help.

How to Safely Choose Gifts for Kids Online

  • Guard your privacy (and your child’s privacy too!) Plenty of online retailers offer up “hot toys 2020” lists, but it’s wise to proceed with caution when shopping for the season’s hottest toys. Stores choose toys they think will sell out quickly, but they don’t always take a toy’s safety or data collection practices into consideration. Make sure toys are safe and have good privacy policies before you buy.
  • Purchase apps and connected toys from companies who are a member of an Federal Trade Commission approved Safe HarborMake sure that none of your child’s personal information will be collected without your explicit consent by choosing apps and toys from companies that display seals on their website and toys from Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) or another Safe Harbor.
  • Examine toy descriptions carefully. It’s easy to miss specific details about toys when you can’t examine them in person, so take your time reading toy descriptions online. Pay close attention to age recommendations, potential choking hazards, exactly what comes with the toy, and what accessories you may need to purchase separately.
  • Read plenty of reviews before you buy. Another good way to get to know a toy without actually seeing it first is to read other consumers’ reviews. Pay close attention to both positive and negative reviews. Review videos can help you get a better idea of what a toy is like and how it works too. Keep in mind though, that many reviewers, bloggers, influencers, etc. share opinions that should be taken with a grain of salt as these individuals may be getting paid to post their review.
  • Keep in mind age recommendations. Take age recommendations seriously, since toys meant for teenagers could be dangerous for younger children. When shopping online, age recommendations may not be readily apparent, so do plenty of research before you make a purchase.
  • Watch out for in-app advertisements. Many toys come with connected apps. These, along with gaming apps for kids, likely feature in-app advertisements. Some in-app ads may be inappropriate for children. CARU offers some excellent suggestions on how to educate your children about in-app advertising and what to watch out for as a parent.
  • Double-check small business web security. Supporting small business this holiday season is an excellent way to give back, but keep in mind that many small businesses have had to pivot from making in-person sales to making online sales in a hurry this year. Some small businesses may not have the resources or technical know-how to set up secure online purchasing. If a small business website seems less than secure, call and ask about curbside purchases instead

Don’t fall for phishing scams. This year, scammers are looking to trip consumers up with a plethora of phishing scams. These include compromised account messagesfake retail coupons, emails claiming there’s been a problem with a package delivery, and more. Read up on phishing scams to avoid falling prey.

For More Information

To learn more about safe online shopping, read the complete tip from CARU and BBB’s tip for smart online shopping. In addition, be sure to read BBB’s tips for safe delivery of your online purchases.

When possible, make purchases from BBB accredited businesses who follow BBB Standards for Trust.


Information courtesy of the Better Business Bureau

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