With Father's Day quickly approaching on June 18, many loved ones are actively searching for and purchasing gifts for the father figures in their lives. The National Retail Federation is estimating total spending of $22.9 billion on Father's Day gifts and celebrations this year, based on the responses to its annual survey. That's more than 10% higher than 2022 and on track to be a record year. Federation officials anticipate the most money will be spent on special outings, clothing, electronics and gift cards.
According to the federation, 43% of Father's Day shoppers will be searching for their gift online, and the average total spending per person is expected to hit a record $196.23, up from $171.79 in 2022. BBB reminds consumers to be wary of online purchase scams and all-inclusive packages advertised at steep discounts while shopping for Father's Day purchases.
When purchasing gifts online, for Father's Day or any other celebration, it is essential to exercise caution and carefully read the limitations of the purchase, expected delivery date and source of the product. BBB's 2022 Scam Tracker Risk Report identified online purchase scams as the No. 1 riskiest scam affecting consumers in North America across all age groups. Online purchase scams comprised 31.9% of all scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker in 2022, with 74% of submissions reporting money loss. Scammers often capitalize on marketplace trends, and Father's Day provides an opportunity for fraudulent sellers to advertise products and services disguised as gift ideas.
"If it's too good to be true, it is," one Texas resident reported to BBB Scam Tracker. "I tried to order my husband a gift for Father's Day and got taken for $98. I ordered some tools I found online and paid through PayPal, then my receipt said I was paying a person instead of a company, which seemed strange. I contacted PayPal immediately, but they could not return my money. It was that fast! The website was no longer active the very next day, but they already have a new one that looks the same, and they always say 80% off."
While shopping for Father's Day gifts this year, BBB recommends the following guidelines to avoid issues:
READ THE FINE PRINT
When buying gift cards or outing packages, check the terms and conditions before purchase to ensure the expiration date and any other limitations will not be problematic. Pay close attention to any policies that may void the transaction if not followed, such as arrival times, cancellation/rescheduling processes and if there are physical restrictions or requirements. If you give a gift card to someone who will make online purchases, be sure it is valid for in-store and online purchases.
WATCH FOR SIGNS OF TAMPERING
When purchasing gift cards in stores, carefully check the packaging to be sure there are no signs someone has been able to access the card's numbers and pin. If someone fraudulently captures and records this information, they could steal loaded funds once they've determined a gift card has been activated.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Before ordering electronics, clothing or other gifts for Father's Day, check out the company's BBB Business Profile at BBB.org. Be sure to check for the "lock" icon in the web address and that it begins with "HTTPS," which indicates a secured system before placing an order or inputting credit or debit card information. Gifts that include personalization options, such as names, are popular purchases for Father's Day but can sometimes be made with low-quality materials that will not last. Read reviews and complaints from previous customers before placing an order to ensure the product received is similar to the advertised product.
ALLOW TIME FOR SHIPPING AND DELIVERY
Check with the retailer or website to ensure you have allowed enough time to deliver any purchased gifts. Make sure your preferred delivery date is specified clearly and guaranteed when you order. For expensive items, you may want to consider requiring the package to be signed for on delivery to prevent package theft.
BE RESPONSIBLE WITH RENTALS
Sometimes to create a unique gift, rentals are involved. Before renting all-terrain vehicles, campers, motorcycles or other recreational equipment for excursions this Father's Day, be sure you get a written contract that includes details such as the base rental cost, daily fees, insurance and time restrictions for any equipment. Also, take the time to visually inspect the rental and get written proof of any existing damage to avoid disputes over unexpected maintenance and repair fees.
HAVE A BACKUP PLAN
Take the time to understand a store or service's guarantee and other policies. Find out how the business handles customer complaints and what options you will have if the arrangement is unsatisfactory. It is best to use a credit card when ordering online due to the added protections credit cards have to dispute charges. Charges made on a debit card, wire transfer or mobile banking app are often the same as cash, and you may not be able to dispute charges if there is a problem.
DON'T CLICK ONLINE COUPONS
If you see a post on social media or receive an email with an offer, don't click on the link unless you're sure the source is legitimate, as it could take you to a malicious website. Suppose you see an advertisement for a product or sale online, especially on social media. In that case, search for it independently by going directly to the company's website to verify the offer is legitimate. Learn more about social media scams on BBB.org.
If you're shopping online, check BBB's Tips for Smart Shopping Online and additional tips at BBB.org/onlineshopping.
You can reach your BBB at 423-266-6144 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michele Mason is president of the Better Business Bureau in Chattanooga.