JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — The busiest shopping day of the year is just about a week away.
From the Office of the Attorney General:
Attorney General Jim Hood reminds consumers to protect themselves as they prepare to kick off the holiday shopping season, especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
As Mississippi stores prepare for the biggest shopping days of the year, Attorney General Hood encourages consumers to take caution and is providing general tips that apply to holiday shopping.
Some general tips Mississippians should be aware of to avoid common holiday shopping pitfalls 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 Mississippi Attorney General’s Office.
· Know your surroundings. Be very cautious when going to and from your vehicle, especially at night. Try to park in well-lit areas and keep your car keys in hand when walking back to your vehicle. Place 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 following Black 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 each website. 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 factor in 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.
Contact 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, consumers can view and download a copy of the brochure (see attached) “Consumer Shopping Tips for the Holiday Shopping Season” at www.agjimhood.com.
According to the Better Business Bureau, the National Retail Federation expects American consumers plan to spend an average $935.58 during the holiday shopping season this year. The National Retail Federation released a survey on holiday shopping conducted by Prosper Insights.
As consumers plan to hit the stores, the BBB wants shoppers to be safe and to get the best bang for the buck.
Below are some tips:
- Do your research. Read product reviews, check out bbb.org for Business Reviews, look at the sales flyers and ads, compare prices, look for early promotions and “flash sales.” For tips on searching online, check out the new BBB Digital IQ project at bbb.org/digitalIQ.
- Read the fine print. Some stores only honor sale ads during a certain time frame, or on certain days. Some stores may only allow you to purchase one item, particularly large, popular and/or deeply discounted products.
- Know the advertiser. Some of the best deals are only available online, but be careful. It’s easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer’s website, so make sure you are shopping with a legitimate site. Check out bbb.org to read more about stores or websites unfamiliar to you.
- Sign-up for email alerts. Many stores release their best Black Friday deals to people who have signed up to receive their emails. Just make sure it’s the real business and not a scammer.
- Ask for gift receipts and save warranty information. A gift receipt can be tucked into a gift item or card so that the recipient can return or exchange a gift if it’s not just right. Be sure to pass along any information about returns, exchanges, repairs, and warranties to the person who will use the item.
Visit the bbb.org to look up a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, report a scam or read more tips.