ATTORNEY GENERAL CAUTIONS CONSUMERS ABOUT HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON

November 27, 2013

In anticipation of some of the year’s busiest shopping days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood reminds consumers to shop with caution.

 “Whether you’re shopping at the mall or online, it is important for consumers to get prepared in order to not only save time and money, but also to avoid scams and identity thieves,” said Attorney General Hood.

 Mississippi stores are preparing for Black Friday, and so should consumers. Some general tips that apply to holiday shopping are:

· Shop around for the best deal for your needs. Just because an item is on sale, it may not be the best price. Some stores are willing to match, or even beat, a competitors prices. In addition, carefully consider bargain offers like Buy One, Get One Free or Free Gift with Purchase. If you don’t really want or need the free or gift item, it is not a deal for you.

· Use coupons wisely. Coupons are helpful when they save you money on what you are already planning to buy. Be sure to check coupons for any restrictions.

· Ask about sale adjustments. If you buy an item at regular price and it goes on sale the next week, check in advance to see if you can get a credit or refund for the discounted amount.

· Ask about refund and return policies. Many merchants may have different refund and return policies for sale items. For example, clearance merchandise may be on final sale, meaning no refunds or exchanges.

· Keep an eye on your money – cash or credit. Carry only the cash and credit cards you absolutely need. Don’t flash cash or credit cards for others to see. If your cards are lost or stolen, report the loss or theft immediately to the card issuers, and file a complaint with the MississippiAttorney General‘s Office.

·  Know your surroundings. Be very cautious when going to and from your vehicle, especially at night. Try to park inwell-lit areas and keep your car keys in hand when walking back to your vehicle.  Places purchases in the trunk, out of plain view.

· After the rush to stores for good deals on Black Friday, Mississippi consumers should also be smart about Cyber Monday shopping. Cyber Monday, the Monday followingBlack Friday, is considered one of the busiest days of the year for online shopping. When shopping online, these key tips may save you time and money:

 · Research the seller and the site. Be familiar with the rules and policies of eachwebsite. Check feedback for particular sellers when applicable. Be wary of sites that have grammatical errors, broken links, or other signs that may indicate lack of trustworthiness.

· Examine the whole package. Know what you are buying and the total price. Be sure to factorin shipping costs, return policies such as restocking fees, and similar charges. Be sure you understand what methods of payment are accepted.

· Look for safety measures on the website. When making a payment online, look for signs the site is secure. Examples include “https” (the “s” stands for secure) in the address, and padlock symbol.

· Regularly update your computer’s security, including anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. Don’t click on a link or open an attachment from an unknown source, and don’t email financial information.

· Keep good records. Whether you’re ordering by mail, phone, or online, it is important to keep detailed information about the transaction, including your order number, shipping costs and dates, warranties, and refund and return policies.

· Monitor your credit card transactions. Save your receipts for returns and exchanges. Check credit and debit card sales and return receipts against your monthly bills and statements, and report any problems to the credit card issuer promptly.

In all shopping, remember that exceptionally low prices, suspicious packaging, and other signs could indicate a counterfeit. “If the price is too low, do your homework,” said Attorney General Hood. “A dangerous or inferior product is never a good enough deal when you are putting your life, or your family’s life at risk.  You also open yourself up to identity thieves who sell you the inferior product and then also steal your personal information they obtain from the purchase.”

Call the  Attorney General‘s Office, Consumer Protection Division, at 1-800-281-4418 to report suspected fraud or scams this holiday season.

To learn more about shopping wisely this holiday season, see “Consumer Shopping Tips for the Holiday Shopping Season” at www.agjimhood.com. The Attorney General‘s Office and StateCapitol Police have also teamed up to provide shoppers and residents with personal safety tips not only at the mall, but also while at home, work or travelling.  A copy of “A Resource Guide to Personal Safety” can also be downloaded at www.agjimhood.com.

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