Ohio Attorney General warns against shopping traps

DeWine offered tips to avoid scams this holiday season.

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DeWine offered tips to avoid scams this holiday season.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine offered holiday consumer protection tips ahead of one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

The National Retail Federation estimated 137 million people plan to shop during Thanksgiving weekend. Additionally, the NRF says about 36 percent of consumers plan to shop online during Cyber Monday.

“We encourage consumers to take some simple steps to protect themselves,” DeWine said. “Whether they’re shopping online or in stores, we encourage people to take their time, understand the details, and ask for help if they need it. Awareness can go a long way in preventing problems.”

• Plan before you shop. Review ads carefully and compare deals. Important exclusions and limitations should be disclosed in ads, including online, so check the details to see if limited quantities of an item are available for sale.

• Check return policies. In Ohio, sellers can choose to set their own return policies, including policies of “no returns.”

• Compare gift cards. Not all gift cards are alike, so review the terms and conditions before you buy. In general, most gift cards must last at least five years, but fees may vary depending on the type of card.

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• Check details of a layaway plan. Layaway plans let you pay in installments before you buy an item outright. Before signing up, check the plan’s details. Look for any initiation or service fees, the length of the plan, when payments are due, and whether you can get your money back if you cancel.

• Keep your receipts. Maintaining a complete record of a sale will help you handle problems that may arise after the purchase.

• Check delivery dates and fees. Carefully review the expected delivery date and shipping costs before you make a purchase. Find out whether you will have to pay shipping or restocking fees if you return the product.

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• Use secure websites. Use secure websites whenever you need to enter personal information online. Look for websites that begin with “https” instead of just “http.” The “s” stands for secure.

• Consider using a credit card for online purchases. In general, when you pay with a credit card, you have certain rights to dispute unauthorized charges that you may not have with a debit card or other form of payment.

• Monitor your accounts. Regularly check your credit card and bank accounts for unauthorized charges or unexpected activity. If you find problems, immediately notify your credit card provider or bank. The sooner you identify a problem, the sooner you can work to correct it.

Visit the Dayton Daily News Black Friday Guide for in-depth coverage of the holiday season.

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