Tag Archives: macy’s

Breach Brief – Macy’s, Adidas

Macy’s department stores has reported a data breach of customer data. The breach affects Macy’s online customers and exposed names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, birthdays, and credit and debit card numbers with expiration dates. Macy’s pointed out that it does not store credit verification values (CVV) or Social Security numbers in its online customer profiles. Macy’s has reported the data breach and exposed card numbers to payment processors Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. Macy’s has not said how many customers are impacted.

According to Macy’s the breach took place between April 26 and June 12. The company reported that an “unauthorized third party” had obtained usernames and passwords and were able to log into Macy’s and subsidiary’s Bloomingdale’s shopper’s online profiles. It is not known how the hackers got the information. Macy’s reported the breach in a letter to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office on July 2nd.

Macy’s has frozen any customer profiles with suspicious activity until the customers change their passwords.

“We have investigated the matter thoroughly, addressed the cause and, as a precaution, have implemented additional security measures,” the company said in a statement. “Macy’s, Inc. will provide consumer protection services at no cost to those customers. We have contacted potentially impacted customers with more information about these services.”

 

Adidas

Adidas, maker of sportswear and equipment, issued a warning to online shoppers in the U.S. that their personal information may have been compromised as a result a suspected data breach.  Adidas first became aware of the incident on June 26 and analysts are saying that potentially millions of customers could be affected.

A preliminary investigation revealed that the hacker may have stolen customer’s contact information, usernames and encrypted passwords. Adidas does not believe any credit card or health and fitness information was compromised.

A statement on Adidas’ website read; “According to the preliminary investigation, the limited data includes contact information, usernames and encrypted passwords. Adidas has no reason to believe that any credit card or fitness information of those consumers was impacted.” The company is in the process of notifying affected customers.

Online Holiday Shopping 2016 – Security Basics

canstockphoto31830688Twice a year scammers crawl from underneath rocks and other nasty places to celebrate special holidays. First, tax season, then the holiday season. African-Americans using the Internet for holiday shopping need to be on guard against cyber crime.  Being aware of the scams and hazards can make a big difference in your holiday celebrations. 

The African-American Cyber Report is offering black people another season of valuable safety information to protect your holiday season so lets get started.

 

Card Skimming

Card skimmer courtesy of BBB.org

Card skimmer courtesy of BBB.org

Card skimming is actually pretty simple. Your credit or debit card information is copied when you swipe your card at a retailer or ATM. Cyber thieves install almost invisible devices or special software on retail card readers. This allows them to duplicate your card and steal your PIN. Its as simple as that. So how do you protect yourself?

First of all if something does not look or feel right stay way. For example is the face of the card reader loose or does it look kind of sloppy? Exposed glue or loose fitting parts? Do the buttons require more effort than normal to press? Does your card have to be swiped several times to work properly. Here’s a trick; pull or tug at the face of the reader. It may come off in your hand. Do the same at ATM’s. Check those buttons. Try to move them or lift the key pad. Check the card insert. Pull on that. Check to see if there is something in the slot or protruding from it. You have got to be alert! If you find any of these things notify the retailer and your bank if you have used it.

If possible use your credit card and not your debit card. It is extremely hard to get your money back from a bank debit card. But a credit card transaction can be cancelled and you will normally not be charged. Skimmers can be found anywhere even at Walmart.

RFID Card Protection

paypassThis is less likely but does happen. Your credit and debit card are sometimes equipped with a feature allowing you to charge things with a quick tap of the card on the pay terminal. You may have one of the cards with brands like PayPassExpressPay, or PayWave.

These cards have RFID (radio frequency identification) chips. With the right equipment criminals can scan your card and steal your card’s data. Protect your card by using a RFID blocking sleeve, or an RFID wallet available online at retailers like Amazon.

But as we said before this is not likely. An RFID reader has poor range so the scammer would have to be standing awfully close to read your card. Keep that in mind when you are fighting that crowd on Black Friday. 

 

EMV or Chip Cards Safety

chipcardYou should by now have the credit card with the EMV chip embedded in it. If not contact your bank or card provider and ask for it. That chip is used to encrypt the transaction data when you charge something. 

The objective of card chip was to reduce card fraud. This technology is not perfect. Some retailers have failed to switch to EMV even though the deadline passed in 2015.  Why? Retailers and customers complain that the process is too slow. Chip cards have reduced point-of-sale fraud. But the crooks have worked around it. The latest hazard is fraudulent “card-not-present” transactions online. Criminals can obtain the credit card number, security code, expiration date from criminal websites that sell this information. Personal information like your dog’s name or your mother’s birthday can be found on Facebook. They use this information to hijack your online accounts. That’s what happens when you put too much of your business online.

 

Tech Support Scams


tech-support-scam-popupNew tablets, laptops, smartphones and big screen televisions are big sellers on Black Friday. Tech support scams are common all year round but the efforts by scammers increases during the holidays. 

These scammers are intent on getting you to pay for support or software you don’t need or simply doesn’t exist. This includes extended warranties. They email you with a sales pitch or issue warnings from what appears to be a Microsoft representative. Be aware! Anti-virus companies do not call you to let you know you have a computer virus. Don’t ever agree to let anyone access your computer from a remote location. Don’t download any software online that you are not sure of. If you don’t have the expertise to know then consult a professional.

Computers often come with a ton of useless software or games. This is known as bloatware or crapware. Be careful! These programs can cost you money. They often entice children and adults to buy things without them even realizing it.

 

Phony Bank Calls

During the holiday season you are using your bank and debit cards more often. Beware if someone claiming to be your bank or credit card company calls you. Remember when it comes to your money you should be asking the questions.

Scammers will call victims claiming to be investigating card fraud or suspicious activity. They will ask questions that reveal your personal information like your credit card number or PIN. Don’t answer these questions. Hang up and call your bank from a number you know. Or stop by in person. These scammers are professionals at alarming you and getting you to reveal information used to rip you off.  When it comes to your money only deal with people you know and trust. Never, ever reveal any personal information to a voice over the phone.

 

Email and Phishing Scams

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net

Be careful where you click! Be extremely cautious about clicking on or downloading coupons in your email. It may be ransomware. This is a malicious software program that locks up your computer until you pay to get it released. It happens a lot and is one of the hottest computer scams going on right now.

Clicking on the wrong email may release malware on to your computer that steals information, monitors your activity and changes your settings. It may even secretly take control of your computer and email itself to all your contacts. Understand that scammers can duplicate an email from Macy’s, Walmart and any other major retailer. Check the return email address to make sure you know who its from. Check the retailers website for information regarding sales, coupons and possible scams. 

Be careful about holiday contests. When you fill out a contest form you maybe giving out personal information. Same for holiday coupons that ask for your name, email address and other personal information.

This holiday season; Be Alert! Be Aware!

 

 

 

SCAM ALERT! $200 Nordstrom Gift Cards – SCAM ALERT!

2__nordstrom_gift_card_-_Facebook_Search

Fake Nordstrom Gift card offer

Users of Facebook and other social media sites have been sharing various versions of a fake Nordstrom gift card offer. The ad claims that Nordstrom was offering a $200 gift card to Facebook users who “referred three friends” to the promotion. Its a scam.

Social media users encouraged to click on the ad that takes the victim to a fake Nordstrom website that uses a web address variation on nordstrom.egiftcards.co. Here’s a tip; web users need to be aware that duplicate websites that actually belongs to cyber criminals are a common tactic. These websites are often perfectly counterfeited.

Instructions in the ad are as follows; 

To Celebrate Valentines Day Get a Nordstrom $200 Gift Card

Simply Invite 3 Friends to Get Your Gift Card
After 3 Friends Click Your Link.
Get Your Gift Card Instantly!

Although the fake webpage in question doesn’t look like other popular Facebook coupon scams it did display a rapidly decreasing number of “available gift cards.” Here’s another tip; cyber criminals often use tactics that increase urgency in the victim. Making you believe that you may lose out on a good deal causes you to act quickly. 

Facebook is a hotbed for coupon and gift card scams. Popular retailers impersonated on the social media website include Kohl’sCostco, Home Depot, Lowe’sKroger, Best Buy, Macy’s, Olive Garden, Publix, Target, Wegmans, and Walmart.

Nordstrom is aware of the scam and offered this statement; “You’re correct, this is a fraudulent promotion as it is not affiliated with Nordstrom and we are not sponsoring any giveaways of gift cards. We recommend not clicking the link or entering any personal information. Our team is actively working to make customers aware of the situation and apologize for any confusion.”

In 2014 the Better Business Bureau published an article advising social media users on how to avoid survey and coupon scams. The BBB warns;

  1. Your eyes will deceive you. Cyber criminals know how to impersonate websites perfectly. Scammers can also make links look like they lead to legitimate websites and emails appear to come from a different sender. This is called spoofing. Use your cursor and hover over links and carefully examine the address that pops up. These are often very clever. www.nordstrom.com is easily confused with www.nordstrom.ru.
  2. Legitimate businesses do not ask for credit card numbers or banking information on customer surveys. If they do ask for personal information, like an address or email, be sure to carefully examine privacy policy. Do not provide anyone else’s email or personal information. You could be providing more victims.
  3. Do your homework. If the offer is a scam, you may find alerts or complaints or warnings from other consumers and retailers online. The organization’s real website may have further information. Also there are plenty of legitimate coupon sites you can search for good deals and gift cards.
  4. If it sounds to good to be true then it probably is. Always keep that in mind.

App of the Week: Cash Dash

FindSave-app-for-iPhone-and-Android-phonesIts the holiday shopping season and as I have said before merchants are waging all out war for your shopping dollars.  Wal-Mart is matching Amazon.com’s and pretty much everybody else’s online prices. Price matching is a common weapon retailers aim at each other.

The app of the week is Cash Dash and it is the latest weapon in the retail arms race. Wanderful Media, creator of the couponing app Find&Save that located coupons for stores near you has announced they have a new twist on the concept. The Cash Dash app basically lets retailers push promotions at you the minute you walk into a competitor’s store or even get close to one.

It really pretty simple; lets say you’re at Wal-Mart, Target would use the app to offer you a $25 incentive to visit one of its stores within 24 hours. This is retail war and the goal is to steal shoppers away from the competition. “When you’re walking into a Home Depot on Saturday morning, your intent is clear,” says Ben Smith CEO of the company. “You’re in home repair mode. That would be a very valuable audience for Lowe’s.”

The app uses your smartphones GPS location to track you. But instead of offering coupons at the store you are shopping at the app tries to send you to the competition. If you accept the offer and make a purchase you submit a photo of your receipt using the Find&Save app. The cash reward goes into your PayPal account. According to Smith the next version of the app will connect to users’ credit cards, and subtract the dollar amount automatically from the purchase.

CashDash has only been available for three weeks and already some 50 retailers have jumped on board. Retailers such as Walgreens and Macy’s, are spending the money to send these notifications and poach the competition. Over 100,000 alerts have been issued since the app launched. Smith claims that about 30 percent of shoppers who receive an alert actually click through and accept it.

Cash Dash has even changed how users feel about having their location tracked. Before the app was introduced only 20 percent of users opted into geolocation. That number has now reached 80 percent. 

The only drawback to the use of the app is the competition’s store may be too far for the shopper to visit. Experts believe that the app would work much better in densely populated areas where the competitor’s store is easier to reach. But the cash incentive could make the drive more palatable.

Retailers are at war and you win anyway you look at it. Cash Dash is available for Apple and Android.

Online Holiday Shopping Series #4 Price Matching

canstockphoto15776464Nothing is more frustrating than buying something and discovering later that another store has it for less than what you paid. And you know its going to happen sooner or later. Most of the great shoppers know how to go back to the store and ask for a price match. Most stores will give you a refund for the difference. This is especially true during the holiday season.

Being a great shopper means never having to pay too much. Price matching has become a powerful tool for many stores who want your business. African-American spending power has passed $1 trillion in the last year. And you better believe that retailers want a piece of that action. As an savvy consumer you ned to know who is doing price matching and how long you have to take advantage of it. You also need to pay attention to Black Friday prices and Cyber Monday as well. Some of these stores will price match even those ultra low prices. And what is really awesome is that you can get that a price match as much as 30 days after you make the purchase. So after you buy that killer microwave oven or flat screen television make sure you keep an eye on the sales. You might have a few dollars coming back at you.

Here is a list of stores that offer price matching and how long you have to get that money back.

image560246x

Abercrombie.com (14 days)

  • You have 14 days from date of purchase to get a price adjustment if price is lowered.
  • From their website, “For orders shipped to the US and Canada, we are happy to process a price adjustment for you if we reduce the price of any merchandise (in the same color and size) that you have ordered from us within fourteen (14) days from the date that you submit your order.”
  • Item must be purchased at the original price. This means you can’t get a price adjustment on a marked down clearance item.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes, as long as your purchase is within 14 days.

 

Amazon.com (7 Unknowndays)

  • While Amazon.com does not advertise a price protection policy, I have it on good authority that you can successfully request one within 7 days of your purchase if the price is dropped.
  • I actually called and spoke with a customer service rep and was told I would have 7 days to request a price adjustment.
  • Price adjustment excludes items sold by an Amazon 3rd party.
  • Simply call Amazon customer service at 1-888-280-3321 to request your price adjustment.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Definitely worth a try. The rep I spoke with didn’t know for sure which was hilarious.

 

Unknown-1Ann Taylor (14 days)

  • Price adjustments are not eligible on special promotions, including %’s off (e.g., 25%, 40%, and 50% etc.) and $’s off.
  • One price adjustment for merchandise purchased at full-price, which has been marked down for the first time, may be made within 7 days from the original date of purchase.
  • Ann Taylor stores are not able to process price adjustments for online orders.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: No.

 

UnknownAnthropologie (14 days)

  • When you buy in-store, or online, you can get a 1-time price adjustment within 14 days of purchase if the item is now on sale.
  • From their website, they “do not offer price adjustments on shipping charges at this time.”
    • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes, as long as       your purchase is within 14 days.

 

Banana Republic (14 daBanana-Republic-Logoys)

  • Just return to your local Banana Republic within 14 days of your purchase (with your receipt) if the item you bought is lowered in price.
  • To obtain a price adjustment on an online purchase call 1-800-GAPSTYLE or send an email message to custserv@gap.com within the 14 day window.
  • Stuff bought with a promotional discount or coupon aren’t eligible for price adjustment.
  • No price adjustments allowed on clearance items.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

 

Best Buy (15 days)best-buy-logo

  • From the Best Buy website, “If we lower our price during the return and exchange period (15 days), we will match our lower price, upon request.”
  • Just keep your receipt and head back to the store to get the lower price.
  • For online purchases, call them at 1-888-BEST BUY (1-888-237-8289) and request your price adjustment.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday: No.

 

the-childrens-place-logoChildren’s Place (7 days)

  • The Children’s Place has a very clear 7 day policy.
  • Item must be originally purchased at full retail price.
  • Sale and discounted items are not eligible.
  • Online orders cannot receive price adjustments in brick & mortar stores. Instead, call them at 1 (877) 752-2387 to get price adjustment.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes, as long as your purchase is within 7 days prior.

 

Costco (30 days)Costco-Logo

  • Costco has a very nice price adjustment policy of 30 days.
  • Just bring your receipt back in within 30 days and get your price adjustment.
  • If for some reason your Costco does not allow a price adjustment, just return the item and re-buy it at the lower price.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

 

250px-Dick's_Sporting_Goods.svgDick’s Sporting Goods (14 days)

  • I called my local Dick’s Sporting Goods and spoke with a manager and was told I would have 14 days to get a price adjustment on an item that I bought which then came up for sale in their ad circular after my purchase.
  • Be sure to return to the same store (with receipt in hand) that original purchase was made for best results.
  • For a price adjustment on an online purchases call them at 1-877-846-9997.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes, definitely worth a shot.

 

o.jpgExpress (14 days)

  • Express will happily give you a price adjustment if the price is lowered within 14 days of original purchase.
  • Only valid for in-store purchases and not valid at the Express Factory Outlet.
  • According to their website, “Price adjustments are not provided during storewide sales.”
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: I am to assume that Black Friday is a storewide sale so you won’t be able to get a price adjustment.

 

Fry’s Elect299202-bigthumbnailronics (15/30 days)

  • 15 day price adjustment on laptop computers, desktop computers, CD and DVD recorders, camcorders, digital cameras, and air conditioner units.
  • 30 day policy on most everything else.
  • Price adjustments not available on items that were originally bought on sale or clearance.
  • Call customer service at 1-408-350-1484 to get your online price adjustment.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Definitely worth a try.

 

GAP (14 dagap-logo-old-unevenys)

  • Just return to your local GAP within 14 days of your purchase (with your receipt) if the item you bought is lowered in price.
  • To obtain a price adjustment on an online purchase call 1-800-GAPSTYLE or send an email message to custserv@gap.com within the 14 day window.
  • Stuff bought with a promotional discount or coupon aren’t eligible for price adjustment.
  • No price adjustments allowed on clearance items.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

 

Gymboree-LogoGymboree (7 days)

  • Take in your original receipt within 7 days of purchase and get your price adjustment at Gymboree.
  • According the Gymboree website, “Online purchases cannot receive price adjustments in retail stores.” Call them at (877) 449-6932 to get your price adjustment on an online purchase.
  • They reserve the right to designate that price adjustments are not available during certain promotional events.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Be sure to ask, although I am guessing that Black Friday will be a predetermined promotional event that doesn’t qualify for price adjustments.

 

hollister-logoHollister (14 days)

  • According to the Hollister website shoppers have 14 days to get a price adjustment with original receipt in hand.
  • Clearance items are not eligible for a price adjustment.
  • Take in-store purchases back to the store you purchased them at.
  • To get a price adjustment on an online purchase you must send an email to Hollisterco@Hollisterco.com. Be sure to include your order number, and the item(s) that are eligible for the price adjustment, and they will take care of the credit.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

 

home-depot-logo1Home Depot (14 days)

  • Home Depot will happily work with you within a 14 day time frame of your original purchase.
  • Be sure to bring product and receipt back in to the store with you as you might have to return the item and re-buy it at the lower price. I have had to do this a few times in lieu of a simple price adjustment.
  • For a price adjustment on an online purchase, call HD customer service at 1-800-430-3376.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

 

o-JCPENNEY2012-570JCPenney (30 days)

  • I called our local JCPenney and was told that shoppers had 30 days to get a price adjustment.
  • I was also told that the manger has some discretion to decline a price adjustment request in very limited cases.
  • For a price adjustment on an online purchases call them at 1-800-322-1189.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

 

jcrewlogoJ.Crew (7 days)

  • J.Crew offers price adjustments on full-priced merchandise only within 7 days of original purchase.
  • Only 1 price adjustment available per item.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes, just be sure to buy at original price in order to get a BF/CM price.

 

Kmart19631990LogoKmart (7 days)

  • You can get a single price adjustment per item within 7 days of original purchase at Kmart.
  • To request a price adjustment on an online purchase, simply call Kmart customer service at 1-866-562-7848.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

 

kohls-logoKohl’s (14 days)

  • You have up to 14 days from the date of the original purchase to get a price adjustment atKohl’s.
  • You’ll need the original, dated sales receipt to get the price adjustment.
  • The item cannot be a clearance markdown.
  • The item cannot be at “Kohl’s Cares” cause merchandise.
  • Buy One, Get One (BOGO) items are not eligible.
  • The item cannot be a current Buy One, Get One (BOGO).
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes. I found nothing on their website to the contrary.

logo_theLimited1Limited (10 days)

  • From the Limited website, “We will honor a one-time price adjustment for online and store purchases when an original sales receipt is presented within 10 days of the purchase date.”
  • In-store purchases must be taken back to store, with original receipt, in order to get the price adjustment.
  • Online purchases from the Limited.com can also get a price adjustment. Call toll free at 1-877-LTD-1963 to get some money put back on your credit card.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

Macys-logoMacy’s (14 days)

  • For in-store purchases at Macy’s you have 14 days to get a price adjustment if the price is lowered.
  • Online purchases: I also found the link to get a price adjustment on an online purchase.Click Here.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes

UnknownMeijer (10 days)

  • From the Meijer website, they “will provide the difference of any Meijer advertised price for an item that goes on sale in the weekly ad within 10 days of the purchase.”
  • They have a list of exclusions: Grocery items, special event days (example mPerks or Meijer Credit Card events), limited quantities, clearance items, mail-in rebate offers, supplemental ads, Black Friday ads, and gift card promotion.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Unfortunately, no.

nordstrom-35-logoNordstrom (14 days)

  • Within 14 days of your purchase Nordstrom will happily credit you if the item you purchased it lowered in price.
  • Important note from their website: “Please note that we can only make one sale adjustment per item and designer goods originally purchased on sale are excluded.”
  • Call them at 1-888-282-6060 to get your price adjustment.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

 

oldNavyLogoOld Navy (14 days)

  • Just return to your local Old Navy within 14 days of your purchase (with your receipt) if the item you bought is lowered in price.
  • To obtain a price adjustment on an online purchase call 1-800-GAPSTYLE or send an email message to custserv@gap.com within the 14 day window.
  • Stuff bought with a promotional discount or coupon aren’t eligible for price adjustment.
  • No price adjustments allowed on clearance items.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

piperlime_logoPiperlime.com (14 days)

  • You have 14 days from date of purchase to get a price adjustment if price is lowered.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes, as long as your purchase is within 14 days.

Pottery_Barn_Gift_Card-6Pottery Barn (30 days)

  • I could not find any information online about Pottery Barn so I called them up and sure enough they offer a 30 day price protection policy.
  • For in-store purchases just return to the store and for online purchases call them at 1.888.779.5176.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

Sears-logoSears (14 days)

  • Sears calls their policy the “Price Protection Policy” and it gives shoppers 14 days get a price adjustment if the item they bought goes on sale.
  • Return to the Sears store of purchase with your receipt and get some cold hard cash.
  • For online purchases, fill out this Price Protection Form to get your price adjustment.
  • Online exclusions include clearance apparel and conditional online only special offers.
  • There unfortunately is one BIG exclusion which is no “Price Protection” adjustments between Thanksgiving Day and the Monday after Thanksgiving also known as Cyber Monday.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Unfortunately, no.

staples-logoStaples (14 days)

  • If the price gets lowered on something you bought in the last 14 days, Staples will happily give you some money back.
  • To claim your price adjustment, just see an associate at the customer service desk at your local store or call Staples at 1-800-333-3330.
  • For an online price adjustment call the same number above.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes. [Update: There are some conflicting reports as to whether the price adjustment applies to Black Friday sales.]

Target-logoTarget (7 days)

  • Target will give you exactly 7 days to bring in your receipt (you don’t need to bring the item back in) and get a price adjustment if the item you bought goes down in price.
  • Clearance items are not eligible for a price adjustment should they happen to go even cheaper which they eventually will. See my article on cracking the price tag at Target for details.
  • Also, you have 7 days from date of purchase to get a price adjustment if you find a lower price at Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com, ToysRUs.com, BabiesRUs.com or in a competitor’s local printed ad.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: No.

UnknownToys R Us & Babies R Us (7 days)

  • While not readily promoted or publicly known, Toys R Us and Babies R Us both offer price protection for 7 days after your original purchase.
  • Item must be originally purchased at regular price to get an adjustment.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: I can’t find any evidence that it won’t work.

UnknownVictoria’s Secret (21 days)

  • Victoria’s Secret will do a price adjustment on items bought at full price, and subsequently lowered in price, within 21 days of purchase.
  • Always keep your receipt and go back to the store of purchase to get your money.
  • To get a price adjustment on an online purchase call Vicky’s Secret at 1-800-411-5116.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

1407955691000-Walmart-LogoWalmart (7 days)

  • Walmart will happily give you some money back if the item you bought is lowered in price up to 7 days after the date of your original purchase.
  • Return to the store of original purchase with your receipt to get your price adjustment.
  • You cannot get an adjustment when there is a difference in an online price vs. an in-store price.
  • Exclusions: Clearance items, special buys, value of the day items, or items purchased up to 7 days before Thanksgiving, Black Friday or Cyber Week.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Unfortunately, no.

Unknown-1Williams-Sonoma (30 days)

  • Similar to Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma also offers a 30 price protection policy.
  • Just return with receipt in hand and politely ask for a price adjustment credit if the item you bought goes on sale or clearance.
  • Call them at (800) 840-2591 to request a price adjustment on an online purchase.
  • Will it Work on Black Friday/Cyber Monday: Yes.

This post originally appeared on Rather Be Shopping.

Online Holiday Shopping Series #2

canstockphoto15907634If you plan to shop online this holiday season you need to get a battle plan together. Saving money is not always made easy for you but if you develop a strategy and method to stay up on the latest sales it could pay off big…really big.

Step 1) Set up an email box strictly for your shopping information. Don’t use your own personal email unless you love getting a lot of spam. Stores love to get email addresses and they also love to email coupons. Also make an effort to follow your favorite stores on their Facebook or other social media site. Another really cool thing stores will do is announce sales and discounts only through email and text messages. If your name is on the list you can can get some nice additional discounts on sale items. This is a favorite tactic of Stein Mart stores who regularly issue incredible savings coupons on the Internet. You have to know where to look for them so click on the link to see what I’m talking about. You can sign up for coupons at stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, JCPenny and many more. 

Coupons are just the beginning of the benefits of signing up for email alerts and coupons. Last year a major electronics retailer offered flat screen televisions, any size, for half price on a certain day of the week. If you were not on their email list you never knew about it. This beats the hell out of waiting in line at 5:00AM on Black Friday. Of course the number of sets were limited in each store but the deal was a great one if you knew about it.

How about being invited to an exclusive sale?  Last holiday season a popular retailer of women’s’ plus size clothing held an after hours sale exclusively for people who responded to an email. The sale offered items for as much as 70% off. You missed it didn’t you?

You don’t have to do this alone. Ask a friend or two to join you using that special email box. Each of you should sign up for stores you all enjoying shopping at. Keep each other informed about sales and monitor social media for sales as well. You never know when Macy’s may Tweet a sale.  Work as team and you could end with a pretty good repository of sales and coupons. And its good all year long since stores hold sales all year round.

Step 2) Focus on price matching. If you find an item at one store for less than another then you can ask the store to sell it to you for that price. Even if they don’t do price matching they very often say yes. Here is a list of stores that have excellent price matching policies. What is great about this is that some store will even match the online price. Check out this list of stores that match online prices.

Step 3) Learn the best shopping apps and load them on your smartphone or tablet. VentureBeats.com offers this list of the 8 best shopping apps. One of the great things about some shopping apps is they they can do a lot of the work for you. Although we will focus on shopping apps later in this series you need to read up on them now before the shopping season gets intense. A good shopping app can do things like watch the price of a item for you and alert you when it drops to a certain level. Some apps go out on the  Internet and find the item at a cheaper price. Other apps will monitor sales at certain stores for you. Apps are amazing and can help keep a few extra dollars where they belong and thats in your pocket.

Step 4) Pick your days carefully. Believe it or not the best day to shop is not black Friday or Cyber Monday. How about Thanksgiving evening? Research indicates that instead of watching football you may want to get online to shop for those Christmas gifts.

As long as we are on the subject of Black Friday sales I’ll let you in on a little secret. First of all the best sales are not on Black Friday. As matter of fact if you wait those same prices will re-appear either online or at the store. Second, there is an extremely limited quantity of those incredible sale items. For example if you see a 50 inch flat screen television advertised for dirt cheap you can bet there are a very few in the store. Check the ad and you will see the word “Limited Quantities.” So get some sleep and preserve your dignity. Black Friday sales are not all that great. You can see a list of 16 Black Friday myths right here.  

Finally, there is a rule of thumb that I would like black people to keep in mind this Christmas shopping season; Its not what you make but what you keep. These tips are intended to help you keep your money. Regardless of what or who you are shopping for there is no reason to pay too much. I have the privilege of knowing a woman who I call the Discount Diva. You could say she is a professional at finding the sale for exactly what she wants even after she has already purchased it. Its amazing but I have seen her go into a store and come out with money. How? She is a practitioner of finding the item she has already purchased on sale for less than what she paid for it. She then goes back to the store with her receipt and asks for the difference. And most times the store will refund the difference. Its amazing but it is an excellent example of how a good shopper works. I urge you, this season, be that shopper.

Now you know

Shopping Online? Think Credibility and Security

canstockphoto18667912Buying online. Its called e-commerce. African-Americans have gone from Black Friday sales to Cyber Mondays online. Online shopping is perfectly natural. You probably never even think about it, you just do it. Even with all the hacking and and identity theft going on millions of black people, like myself, will go online to find the best price on the product we need or want.

But before you shop you need to trust the website you’re dealing with. Website credibility means money for the merchant. But no credibility means you could get taken. Happens everyday. So I’m gonna say it again even though I’ve said it a thousands times already; Black people don’t play when it comes to our money.

Before I get into e-commerce credibility I want to talk about our credibility. African-Americans are a powerful consumer segment. According to research done by the Neilsen Company. Black buying power will reach $1.1 trillion by 2015. Yes, I said TRILLON! And that number will only grow. Neilsen says our buying power will reach $1.3 trillion by 2017. Clearly we are growing and gaining power as consumers.

Neilsen Study: African-Americans Are More Relevant Than Ever

But if you want to see a black person mad have them buy something and not get what they paid for! That’s why e-commerce credibility is so important when black people shop online. A funny thing about the African-American online shopper; we will do more research than other groups before we purchase. According to TheMinorityeye.com website 45% of black shoppers utilize the Internet early in their purchase process before we decide on a product or service. It takes black people longer to make a purchase. It means we are careful with our money. Do you need me to say it again?

Now we can talk about e-commerce credibility. Black people know the big names like Amazon, eBay, Macy’s, Walmart. But when you shop you will sometimes find a unique item or a special price for something. But is that website trustworthy? That’s the big question here. Here are ten steps you can take to protect yourself when shopping online

1) Know who you are dealing with –  The birth of the Internet and e-commerce resulted in a truly global market place. There is no where in the world you can’t shop. So your retailer may be in another country. Consider these things, is the name recognizable like Amazon.com or Walmart.com? These companies have solid reputations.  But sometimes you have to establish the identity of the smaller less known online retailers. So make sure to investigate the name and company registration details here in the U.S. Make sure you have a way to contact the company. Look for an an e-mail, postal address and telephone number and know definitely where the company’s headquarters is based. If you can’t find this information something is wrong. And test the companies response by sending them an email asking questions about their products or services. Did they respond quickly? Was the response acceptable and professional? And here is something else to look for, how is their English? Is it acceptable or poorly written with spelling and grammar errors. That’s a tip off that you need to investigate further. And finally check their online reputation by using the Better Business Bureau website. You can also visit websites like Scamadviser.com. This website allows you to enter the website address and get a fast review of the sites credibility.

2) Check their reputation –An online retailer may have a legitimate business but that doesn’t mean he has satisfied customers. Lets be real, some places will tell you all sales are final. And customer satisfaction is not a priority. So make sure you investigate the companies reputation thoroughly. Again the BBB is a good place to start. What is their return policy? Check online for customer feedback and issues. Are they rated highly by customers?

3) Understand billing, guarantees and delivery before you buy anything –  Be wary of hidden costs and payment details before sending credit card details. Keep an eye out for and calculate these costs into your purchase.

  • Packaging costs
  • Delivery costs
  • Know if you will be billed before or after the product or service is delivered.
  • Can you track the item from purchase to delivery to your door? This is crucial for more expensive items. The ability to electronically track your purchase adds to the companies reputation and credibility.
  • Does the product come with a guarantee against defects, functioning, appearance and quality?
  • What is the return policy? Throughly read the information on the site about cancellations, returns and refunds. Print a copy.
  • Who pays if the item is returned? Postage, fees etc.
  • If there is a cooling off  or grace period for expensive items. Some retailers will actually give you a ‘regret’ period, usually 48 hours, where you can cancel or return a really expensive purchase.

 4) Thoroughly review the site’s privacy and security policy. Reputable retailers are open about their data collection. Somewhere on the website they will outline exactly what data they collect from you and what they do with it. Many will display a web-seal of  approval or trust mark such as Trust-e that sets standards for the treatment of your information. Research this privacy policy to understand how the company will use your information after your purchase. Some companies will use your information to email you with updates, to inquire about your level of satisfaction, or offer you other products or deals. Some retailers also sell your information to third parties. That’s where your email spam comes from.  Ultimately you must decide what much information you are prepared to give. But the problem with that is that you do not always get that information upfront. Or you may have no choice in the matter. Except to shop elsewhere and that is definitely a powerful message. If you really want to make an impact simply email the company and tell the you didn’t buy from them because of their privacy policy.

5) Use only secure websites – Ok, your investigation is complete and you’re satisfied that the company you are purchasing from is legit. Now for the transaction.  You need to make double sure that your credit card data is processed using a secure connection. Commonly known as Secured Sockets Layer (SSL) this is the most commonly used form of encryption used online.  Your credit card data is encrypted by SSL and broken into small pieces so it cannot be read by a cyber criminal. To ensure that you are using SSL technology you need to check your browser for the following:

  • Your browser may be set to alert you that you are entering a secure area. Unless you are required to log in before shopping the secure area is the first page where you enter your personal information.
  • Look for the ‘https:’ on your browser URL address window. 

google-ssl-1319029457

That final “s” is telling you that the site is secure. But unless you were required to sign in from the beginning you won’t see the “s” until you are ready to complete your transaction. 

https-padlock-icon

  • Look for the little green padlock in the URL window. It should be locked or closed. If it is open then assume the site is not secure and don’t enter any data no matter how bad your want the product. Transmitting data over an un-secure connection is asking for trouble. Its called “being out in the open.”
  • Another symbol to look out for is the unbroken key. It also indicates a secure website. 

6) Attention to detail – Be sure to enter the correct information when submitting your order. An incorrect address, number of items or the wrong item code can cause some serious headaches. And that is not the way you want to test their customer service!  And make sure their math is correct. Check for hidden fees like re-stocking if you return the item. Look for convenience fees, unusual shipping fees and other sneaky charges some retailers attach to your purchase.  Double check this information before you click ‘buy’.  After you have completed the purchase start keeping records. Record your purchase details to include a receipt of the final price, email and credit card confirmations shipping details dates and times. If you can’t print them then do a screenshot of the information and save it or print that out. Remember, a paper trail is powerful tool. 

7) Use a credit card with online fraud protection. When all else fails its nice to know your credit card has a policy that protects your from online fraud. You can find the best credit cards for fighting fraud here. Make sure you read that policy and stick to it. It can save you from losing a lot of money. Many credit card companies offer protection against fraudulent purchases and includes coverage that includes online purchases. Check with your bank or credit card provider to see what protection you have. It may be time to switch to a safer card.

8) Use a good Phishing Filter –There are various phishing filters and some good ones are actually free. For Windows users there is Microsoft SmartScreen Filter for Internet Explorer. This software will alert you when it detects a suspicious website.

9) Be alert to email scams – Email scams are designed to gather personal information such as passwords and credit card details. These are known as phishing emails. And remember there is no software that can protect your from or detect a scam. Scammers send out millions of emails day after day hoping to snag unsuspecting or gullible victims. When they find one they immediately go after their confidential information often. These emails may mimic known retailers and look quite convincing. But keep in mind that legitimate companies, including all banks, never, ever send you an email requesting  login, password, or credit card details.  Don’t ever click on that link! Delete it and report it to your bank. If you have any doubts,  go to the website on your own by typing in the web address of the company. Again; do not click on that link. It may be malware or some other virus.

Being black and online requires you to be alert and knowledgeable. Don’t be somebody’s sucker when you shop online. Learn what you need to know to protect yourself because AACR rule #1 is; The only laws on the Internet are the ones you impose and enforce.

Now you know.