Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden is providing a series of tips for shoppers making gift purchases online and in stores to let his office's consumer protection unit know if they believe they have been the target of a scam.
Biden's consumer protection tips for online shoppers are:
- Purchase only from reputable retailers that you are familiar with. Make sure you have the retailer's physical address and phone number in case you have problems with the purchase.
- Do not send personal or financial information through e-mail. Legitimate companies will not ask you to send personal identifying information via e-mail, because it is not a secure way to transfer such information.
- Pay with a credit card, which provides consumers with protections not afforded by debit cards and other payment options.
- It is important to read the fine print and the product description very closely to ensure that you understand exactly what you are purchasing. Also, find out the website's shipping and return policies. Some retailers that offer free shipping do charge fees for returned merchandise.
- Comparison shop and figure out your total cost, including shipping charges. Use websites that provide you with a list of online retailers and the prices they're charging for the item you are looking for.
- Keep a record of all transactions. Print records of all your online orders, including the confirmation page, which will include information about your order, payment, and shipping, and any e-mails to and from retailers.
Page 2 of 3 - - Place your order only when you know the site is secure. If a site is secure, the web address will begin with "https" rather than "http," and a locked padlock icon will be visible at the bottom right of your computer's screen. Be aware, however, that some con artists have learned to forge these security indicators. Also, avoid making purchases over public, non-secure networks such as those at coffee shops or libraries.
- Protect your computers with anti-virus and anti-spyware programs and be creative with passwords you set up for online stores.
- When the shopping is done, consumer should check their credit card and bank statements often. By the time you receive your credit card bill or bank statement in January, a thief may have already made unauthorized charges.
Shoppers making purchases in-person should take the following steps, Biden suggested:
- To verify that advertised sale prices are the same as what the store is charging, bring a copy of the store’s ad with you.
- During the transaction, monitor the case register to ensure you are being charged the correct price.
- Find out the store's return policy and if any re-stocking fees will be charged.
- Review sales receipts before leaving the store for any discrepancies and ask for a refund immediately if you believe you have been overcharged.
Page 3 of 3 - For more information: (800) 220-5424.