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Carr: Consumers, Shop Wisely this Holiday Season

November 20, 2017

ATLANTA, GA - Attorney General Chris Carr is providing the following tips for holiday shoppers. 

“The way we are making holiday purchases is changing with more sales being made and processed on our phones, tablets and laptops,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “In fact, 59 percent of consumers are planning to buy gifts online this holiday season according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. In this shifting landscape, it is more important than ever to protect your wallet and your identity, and we are offering the following tips to remember while shopping this holiday season.”

Take precautions when making online transactions with an unfamiliar business. To avoid scams, do your online shopping through reputable, well-known websites. Be leery of ads on social media. You can check out a company’s reputation through the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org.  

Credit cards offer greater protections against fraud than cash, checks or debit cards.  If a transaction turns out to be fraudulent, e.g. you never receive the item or it is defective, and the company refuses to give you a refund, you can report the fraud to your credit card issuer, and if it agrees that you were the victim of fraud, the most you will be liable for is $50. Many credit card issuers will even waive that amount.

When is a sale a sale? Even if a merchant is advertising discounts, you should still comparison shop to make sure that the sale price is truly a bargain. Every now and then a seller illegally inflates the original price of an item and then discounts it to make the “discount price” appear as a bargain.

Guard against identity theft. One of the best ways to protect yourself from identity theft is to check your bank and credit card accounts frequently. Keep your receipts and compare them to your statement. If you come across a charge you don’t recognize, contact the financial institution immediately. In the event of identity theft, cancel the compromised cards and have new ones re-issued. You should also contact one of the three credit bureaus – Experian, Transunion or Equifax – to place a fraud alert on your credit file. 

Check out return policies. When you make a purchase, ask what the store’s return policies are, especially on sale items. Always keep your receipts in case you have to return or exchange an item.  A business may set its own return policy and may offer consumers cash, in-store credit, exchanges or no adjustment at all. Many stores also set time limits during which they accept returns. While not required to post their policies, businesses must honor any posted refund or return policy.