Help finding the perfect Halloween treats

The average American will spend over $75 on Halloween items. CONTRIBUTED

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The average American will spend over $75 on Halloween items. CONTRIBUTED

Did you know Halloween is the second largest shopping season of the year? It places only behind Christmas, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

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The average American will spend over $75 on Halloween items (decorations, costumes and other merchandise) and that number is going up. In 2016 the NRF predicted that Americans would spend about $8.4 billion, and the federation expects that number to rise again this year.

With trick-or-treat, haunted houses and home parties just around the corner, Better Business Bureau offers tips to keep you from getting spooked by bad business:

• Do your research when deciding where to shop. Find full contact information including a phone number, e-mail address and physical location. If you’re considering online stores, know shipping costs and return policies before placing your order.

• Be prepared to keep whatever you buy. Some Halloween stores set up temporary locations and may have strict refund and return policies.

• Pay by credit card so if something goes wrong you can dispute the charges with your credit card company. Save all receipts or e-mail notifications regarding your purchase.

• Protect your personal information when buying online and make sure the site you’re using is credible and safe.

• Keep delivery dates in mind as you order to ensure purchases arrive when you need them.

• Get details when renting a costume. Find out the store’s policy if the costume is damaged or lost. Make sure you understand the rental agreement before signing.

• Examine merchandise in store or as soon as it arrives. If it doesn’t fit or isn’t what you ordered, contact the seller as soon as possible.

• Consider shopping closer to Halloween for smaller items. Retailers may lower prices to move them out.

BBB receives hundreds of complaints about Halloween stores and websites every year. Be sure to check out companies with BBB to make sure you're dealing with trustworthy businesses before purchasing. Avoid being tricked by scammers by visiting www.bbb.org or calling (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301 for a list of BBB Accredited Businesses and Business Profiles.

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John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.

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