Expert Advice on Avoiding Wedding Scams


Photo: Kimberly Sentner

We periodically hear from couples who've been blindsided by wedding scams and are seeking advice on how best to protect themselves. For an expert opinion, we turn to the Better Business Bureau to learn what precautions couples should, particularly online, when planning a wedding. Here are five of the BBB's top tips:

Research all online vendors
When choosing to go with an online retailer for your wedding services or products, start with a trusted site rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results can often lead you to unscrupulous websites or phishing scams. Also, look for widely recognized "trustmarks" on retail websites. Click on the seals to confirm they're valid. Confirm that your online purchase is secure. Look for the "s" after "http" in the URL or the lock symbol in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

Review all terms and conditions
Whether you're dealing with a company online or in-person, review all terms and conditions carefully. What is the company's refund and exchange policy? What is their cancellation policy? What happens if the company can't hold up their end of the bargain? Be sure you understand your rights as a consumer before doing business with the company.

Keep documentation of your order
For online orders, save a copy of the confirmation page or emails confirming the order until you receive the item or service and are satisfied. If you're dealing with a company face-to-face, be sure to get all details in writing, including specific dates, products, prices, cancellation, and deposit policies and signatures from both parties.

Pay with a credit card
Credit cards offer consumers the added protection of disputing any charge over $50 within 60 days of the purchase. Most established businesses accept major credit cards, so use them whenever possible, including payment for deposits. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on the card, and many card issuers have "zero liability" policies if someone steals your card number and uses it. Never wire money.

Consider purchasing wedding insurance
Wedding insurance can cover a range of prospective problems, including vendor no-shows, cancellations, inclement weather, military deployment, medical emergencies, travel delays, and more. Many policies start at $200 and can potentially save you thousands of dollars.

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