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AG: Shop safe & smart for holiday gifts

The holidays are just around the corner and consumers are looking for deals in stores and online. To ensure safe shopping, Attorney General Mark Brnovich is offering the following tips.

"As Arizonans look for the perfect gift for family and friends, we want to ensure they don't overlook simple ways to keep their purchases and their personal information safe," said Brnovich. "By researching purchases ahead of time, shopping in a secure manner and ensuring safe delivery of gifts, the holiday season can be filled with joyous moments instead of fraudulent experiences." 

Holiday Shopping Tips: Research:

  • Before making a purchase, ask what the return policy is, as return policies vary from store to store and website to website. Also ask if the store charges a restocking fee, and, if so, how much. 
  • Read reviews, watch product videos on third-party sites, and comparison shop products before making an online purchase.
  • Use a business/retailer that you know or trust.
  • Avoid the pressure to purchase on Black Friday and Cyber Monday unless you've been able to verify it really is a great deal. 
  • When checking out, watch the display to be sure prices match the posted price, and check your receipt for accuracy before you leave the store or website.  Keep your sales receipts. 

Shop Secure:

  • Make sure your computer and mobile devices have updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software, updated spam filters, and a secure firewall. 
  • Shop using secure Wi-Fi or cellphone data rather than free Wi-Fi at a mall or coffee shop. Also, always use trusted websites with reliable track records.
  • Beware of phishing attempts. If an email or pop-up message appears asking for financial information while you're browsing, do not reply or click a link. This is likely an illegitimate company. Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the consumer into revealing financial information. If you do receive such an email, call the business directly by using the number on your receipt or invoice, or by searching online for the business's website and using the number listed there. 

Credit vs Debit:

  • Use credit cards and secure payment services instead of debit cards as an added layer of shopping security. Many credit cards come with zero-fraud liability, which makes getting a refund easier. Buying on credit also offers increased federal protection under the Fair Credit Billing Act, which allows you to dispute charges you did not authorize and more options if you need to dispute a charge.

Ensure Safe Delivery:

  • Make every attempt to have purchases delivered at a time someone is home or arrange to have it held at a USPS/FedEx/UPS facility until the parcel can be picked up. Many delivery services offer a live map to track deliveries.
  • Some consumers even install webcams that send text alerts if activity is detected and provide video proof of the theft. Digital lock-boxes are also an option.

If an issue arises, try to work it out with the seller or site operator. If that doesn't work, file a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General's Office and/or the Federal Trade Commission. Stolen parcels can be reported to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service if sent via US Mail. The other parcel carriers have investigative units as well.

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