JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — Attorney General Jim Hood is encouraging residents to shop smart and safe this holiday season.
Shopping for Christmas gifts is stressful enough without having to worry about criminals lurking to steal or commit fraud this time of year,” Attorney General Hood said. “Fortunately, there are some simple steps consumers can take to avoid con artists. From being aware of your surroundings while out shopping, or being aware of online safety measures when on the internet, consumers can successfully manage the holiday shopping rush.”
According to the National Retail Federation, more than 137 million people will hit retail stores or shop online this weekend. Black Friday is the most popular shopping day of the year. The Monday after Thanksgiving, known as Cyber Monday, has become the big day for consumers to go online for deals.
He is urging consumers to take the time to protect themselves against fraud and scams and safeguard their personal information.
- While out shopping, avoid walking alone and always be aware of your surroundings. Many malls and shopping centers provide security escorts upon request. Park in well-lit areas and avoid leaving valuables or gift purchases in view inside the car.
- Remember that “Black Friday” deals aren’t always the best deals. Sales times and quantities may be limited, so spend some time shopping around before committing to a particular purchase. Keep in mind that some retailers may offer “sale adjustments” if you buy an item at regular price and it goes on sale later. Some stores may offer a credit or refund of the discounted amount.
- Ask retailers about return and exchange policies, which differ depending upon the retailer or the item purchased. Some retailers may not accept a return in an open box, or, if they do, they may charge a “restocking fee.” Clearance items may not be eligible for return or exchange in some circumstances.
- Carry only the cash and credit cards that are necessary, and immediately report lost or stolen cards to the card issuer and local law enforcement.
- Watch out for ATMs and credit-card readers that appear to have been tampered with, as that could be a sign of “skimming,” where criminals install small devices in the machines that steal sensitive financial information.
- When shopping online, know the reputation of the seller and be aware of the site’s refund policies and shipping/handling fees.
- Before submitting a payment over the internet, make sure the website is encrypted and secure (The site’s URL should start with “https” and/or contain a padlock symbol.)
- Always use computers or mobile devices with up-to-date software, anti-virus and anti-malware programs. Never open links or attachments from unknown sources, since this is a way for criminals to steal identities.
- Maintain receipts and monitor credit card transactions. Make sure credit card and bank statements accurately match sales receipts. Promptly report any problems to the card issuer.