Five retail traps to avoid this season

You know to protect your identity, respect your money, and pay with cash (to avoid falling deep in debt) this holiday season. But do you know how to spot or sidestep those holiday traps merchants rely on to make an extra buck or two?

Here's what you need to know before hitting the mall or shopping online to fulfill your holiday gift list.

Wave off warranties
Lisa Baskfield, a CPA and member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' (AICPA) National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, says buyers need to stay on their toes when the electronics department salesperson is waving an extended warranty in front of you. "Read the manufacturer's warranty before saying yes," Baskfield says. "I purchased a camera from Best Buy with their warranty which I was told would replace the camera if anything happened within the first two years. After a month, it died. I had to go through the manufacturer first to see if they could fix it before being able to use BestBuy's warranty." Baskfield's camera was out of commission for three months. "The warranty from BestBuy was very misleading and certainly not worth the cost," she says.