AG Yost offers tips for avoiding shopping scams during the holidays | Jobs Reply


PRes Release

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has some helpful tips for consumers to avoid potential scams while preparing for the holiday shopping season.

“It sure can be the best time of year,” Yost said, “but a scam or bad shopping experience has a way of quickly dampening the holiday spirit, bringing the Grinch out of us. Don’t let it happen to you.”

The Attorney General’s Office recommends that consumers:

• Research vendors carefully. Search for complaints filed with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau. Also check customer reviews online about the seller.

• Be aware of scams. Watch for counterfeit coupons. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be careful if someone asks you to pay using gift cards or wire transfers; both are often requested by trick artists.

• Check return policies. In Ohio, retailers can set their own return policies, including “no returns” policies, but any retailer that has a policy that limits your ability to get a refund must clearly inform you of that policy before you complete the purchase. Be sure to check return times, which may change during the holidays.

• See exclusions and restrictions on ads. Important exclusions and limitations must be clearly disclosed. Check to see if the offer is only valid during certain hours, only limited prices are available, or other terms and conditions apply. If a seller advertises a product at a certain price but sells it when you respond to the ad, you may be entitled to a rain check. However, sellers are not required to issue rain checks if they clearly disclose the amount of goods available at that price or if they clearly state that no rain checks will be issued.

• Understand the difference between gift cards. Not all gift cards have the same features or functions. A credit card company-branded gift card that can be used almost anywhere may depreciate faster than a single-store gift card. Promotional cards, such as those that come free with purchase, may not carry the same protections as other cards and may only be valid for a short period of time. When you receive a gift card, it’s usually best to use it as soon as possible to reduce the chance that it will be lost, stolen or otherwise diminished.

Consider paying by credit card, if possible. Credit card payments generally offer greater protection against unauthorized charges compared to other types of payment methods. Generally, with a credit card, your liability for unauthorized charges is limited to $50 and you have certain rights to dispute charges that you may not have with a debit card or other payment method.

• View your accounts. Regularly check your credit card and bank accounts for unauthorized charges or unexpected activity. If you find any problems, immediately notify your credit card provider or bank. The sooner you identify a problem, the sooner you can fix it.

Additionally, holiday shoppers should consider these tips:

• Keep cybersecurity in mind. When shopping for deals online, don’t use free public Wi-Fi when entering sensitive information like a credit card number. Keep apps, software and operating systems up to date and use secure websites whenever you need to enter personal information.

• Be aware of skimming while shopping online. Cybercriminals can capture credit card and personally identifiable information by browsing your data online. Look for the “s” in “https” to ensure that the website is secure, and always double-check that the site you are on is an official (legitimate) company site. Also, use credit cards instead of debit cards; credit cards have additional protections.

• Check delivery dates and fees. Carefully review the expected delivery date and shipping costs before purchasing. Find out if you will be charged a shipping or restocking fee when you return a product. Also, get the packages delivered quickly so they are not stolen or damaged outside your door.

• Be aware of package tracking or account freeze scams. You may receive texts or emails informing you of shipping delays or that your account has been suspended. You may be asked to provide personal information or click on a link for more information. But providing personal information or clicking on unknown links can lead to financial damage or infect your computer with malware. Do not click on links if you are not sure who they are from.

Consumers who suspect an unfair business practice or want help dealing with a consumer problem should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.



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