With “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” now in the bag, all the remains is the Christmas holiday shopping season. Problem is, the tail-end of November and lion’s share of December are a time when massive amounts of commerce is conducted. According to a Nov. 24, 2017 USA Today article, in-store shopping was as much a draw for some this “Black Friday” as was online shopping. As one Jersey City, New Jersey resident told the newspaper, her shopping would run the gamut – all the way from Walmart to a Gucci outlet in search of “good deals” that are “hyped” by the stores. It’s this wide range of shopping options that has spurred law experts and law enforcement to offer safe shopping tips this holiday season. According to New York-based consumers’ rights attorney Jeffrey Benjamin, guarding your personal and financial property is just one step of the safe-shopping equation.
In the same vein, the New York State Attorney General’s Office has similarly offered up a number of tips to protect shoppers against fraud and theft. According to Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, “misleading bargains” can be a fool’s errand for those out shopping early and often. That’s because slashed prices could have come after unseen mark-ups. On top of deceiving discounts, the attorney general’s office suggests that consumers learn the refund policies at the point of sale. This way, you’ll know exactly what your rights on when it comes to getting cash back or trading in after Christmas.
“As New Yorkers begin making holiday purchases for family and friends, they should know that some deals are too good to be true,” Attorney General Schneiderman said in a Nov. 22, 2017 press release. “We encourage consumers to follow our tips to protect against fraudsters and ensure they spend their money wisely and safely this holiday season.” Another warning worthy of mention is using your credit card over debit bank cards. The reason for using the former over the latter is that there’s rarely a desire from thieves to scoop up credit card information, as it’s tied to a “line of credit from the issuer” and “each purchase is essentially a loan you must repay later, often with high interest.”
Lawyer Jeffrey Benjamin is well-versed in the New York Deceptive Practices Act and has tried court cases under it. Many of the warnings that the state attorney general’s office has put out – especially the unsolicited prize promotions and other contests – tie back to consumers’ rights and attempts at fraud by less-than-noble merchants. Such promotions, sweepstakes and contests are a way for operators to collect and sell your personal information, authorities say, and are best avoided as you shop online or in brick-and-mortar stores.