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Do you know what personal information that shopping app collects about you? Find out before downloading.

Avoid Buyer’s Remorse with this Helpful Checklist

Whether you’re making a large or small purchase, there are a few things you want to think about before you hand over your hard earned money. To make sure you aren’t left with buyer’s remorse, use this checklist before making a purchase:

  • Decide in advance exactly what you want and how much you can afford

  • Do your research. Ask family, friends and others you trust for advice based on their experience. Gather information about the seller and the item or service you are purchasing.

  • Review product test results from consumer experts and comments from past customers.

  • Get advice and price quotes from several sellers.

  • Make sure the seller has all the appropriate licenses. Doctors, lawyers, contractors and other service providers must register with a state or local licensing agency.

  • Check out a company’s complaint record with your local consumer affairs office and Better Business Bureau.

  • Get a written copy of guarantees and warranties.

  • Get the seller’s refund, return and cancellation policies.

  • Ask whom to contact if you have questions or problems.

  • Read and understand any contract or legal document you are asked to sign. Insist that any extra you are promised be put in writing.

  • Consider paying by credit card. If you have a problem you can dispute the charge.

  • Don’t buy on impulse or under pressure.

Find out more about doing your research so you’re fully prepared before you make a purchase.

Before You Buy Toys, Read Safety Tips

If your holiday shopping list includes toys, check out toy safety tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (PDF)

Choosing age-appropriate toys and following safety labels can help prevent toy-related injuries.

What to Know Before Shopping Online This Holiday Season

The internet makes holiday shopping so easy—no fighting for parking spaces at jam-packed malls, no waiting in endless lines to get to the register.

But even if you consider yourself a pro, shopping online isn’t without risks. These tips can help you protect yourself and your finances as you hunt for that perfect gift:

1. Use a credit card rather than a debit card. Credit card payments can be withheld if there’s a dispute with a store, and if the card is stolen, you won’t have to pay more than $50 of fraudulent charges. But with a debit card, you can’t withhold payments—the store is paid directly from your bank account. And if your card is stolen, you could be liable for up to $500, depending on when you report it.

2. Find out if the public WiFi hotspot you’re using at a coffee shop or bookstore is secure. If it’s not, your payment information could be compromised over the network.

3. It’s risky not to read the terms of service agreement before you buy online. You could inadvertently sign up for subscriptions or get hit with additional fees or restrictions. Terms of service are often in small print or presented right when you are anxious to purchase.

4. Be careful if you’re buying event tickets online as gifts. Some venues may practice restricted ticketing, requiring the same credit card used in the online purchase to be shown to get into the event.

5. Use caution buying digital assets like books and music—they can’t be given away as gifts if they’ve been downloaded to your account. You should either purchase a gift card for the book or music site, or check with the company. Some services have ways to “gift an item” but it varies depending on the provider.

For more advice on safe online shopping and being a savvy consumer this holiday season and all year long, check out the Consumer Action Handbook–the free government guide to protecting your money.

Up early to score some Black Friday deals? These tips can help you stick to a budget and avoid holiday debt.