With Black Friday and Cyber Monday on the horizon, the Attorney General is warning consumers to protect themselves against fraud and scams.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a consumer alert for those planning on getting some holiday shopping done over the Thanksgiving weekend.
The advice offered by the Attorney General includes:
- Consumers should beware of misleading bargains or added fees, as “sale” prices may have been marked up before being marked down, nullifying the impact of the sale. “Often, the touted ‘sale’ price may, in fact, be significantly higher than the price for that same item later in the season,” Schneiderman said. Delivery charges and other added costs may not be reflected in the sale price.
- "Warranties are not all the same." Consumers should be sure to read the terms of any warranty to ensure it doesn't affect the cost of an item in the long run.
- Refund policies should be double-checked. "The law requires all merchants to post their refund policies," according to Schneiderman. "A store that fails to do so must give consumers 30 days to get a refund in the manner that the purchase was made. Be especially vigilant of 'final sales' or 'cash-only – final sale' notices, as you will have little or no recourse if the merchandise proves to be defective. Some stores will require the original packaging and charge a hefty restocking fee for returned items."
- Beware of restricted gift cards, which may have certain conditions or expiration dates.
- "Credit cards generally offer better purchase protection and fraud dispute resolution than other methods of payment. When you use a credit card, you are accessing a line of credit from the issuer. Note that each purchase is essentially a loan you must repay later, often with high interest."
- "Debit cards are tied directly to your checking account so they’re best used to help avoid credit traps. There is little risk getting into debt with debit cards, but be careful of overdraft charges. Further, if your debit card is lost or stolen, you must report it within two business days to limit your loss to $50."
- On Cyber Monday, consumers should only shop on secure Internet connections. Any personal financial or credit card information should not be shared on an open and unsecured Wi-Fi connection. "With the advent of point-of-sale malware and rampant data breaches, identity thieves are now more sophisticated and dangerous than ever. If you are going to make purchases online, you can best protect yourself from the risks of identity theft and fraud by using credit or debit cards. Determine which is best for you and your purchase needs," Schneiderman said.
- "Be wary of too-good-to-be-true contests and prize promotions."
“As New Yorkers begin making holiday purchases for family and friends, they should know that some deals are too good to be true,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We encourage consumers to follow our tips to protect against fraudsters and ensure they spend their money wisely and safely this holiday season.”
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