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Holiday shopping safety tips

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Updated: 11/29/2013 2:45 pm
LAS VEGAS -- Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is cautioning Nevadans during this holiday shopping season to be on alert for thefts and scams.

“Scammers will attempt to take advantage of innocent people when they are shopping for loved ones, especially during Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” said Masto. “Whether Nevadans are shopping in brick and mortar stores or on-line, they should remember two main rules – if it sounds to be good to be true, it probably is; and secondly, buy from businesses you trust.”

Tips for shoppers visiting brick and mortar stores:
  1. Do your homework in advance to know the value of the product and shop around for the best deals. Read store ads carefully.
  2. 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.
  3. During the transaction, monitor the cash register to ensure you are being charged the correct price and that your coupons are being applied.
  4. Find out the store's return policy and if any re-stocking fees will be charged.
  5. If you’re buying through a layaway, be sure you understand the policies, including any additional fees or restrictions, and cancellation policies.
  6. If you’re buying a warranty/extended warranty, be sure you understand the terms, including what is and is not covered.
  7. If you’re buying a gift card, be sure you understand the terms, including if the merchant charges a gift card purchase fee and/or an inactivity fee.
  8. Review receipts before leaving the store for any discrepancies and ask for a refund immediately if you believe you have been overcharged.
  9. Carry only one or two credit cards in your wallet; do not carry your social security card in your wallet.
  10. Save all receipts. Ask for gift receipts to ensure your friends and family receive the full price you paid if they need to return or exchange your gift. Never toss ATM and credit card receipts in a public trash container.
Tips for on-line shoppers:
  1. Make sure you have the retailer's physical address and phone number in case you have problems with the purchase.
  2. Order from a secure server. When making a payment on-line, look for signs the site is secure. Examples include "https" (the "s" stands for secure) in the address, and padlock symbol.
  3. Do not wire money or send cash. Legitimate sellers never demand consumers to wire money as payment.
  4. Do not send personal or financial information through e-mail.
  5. When making a credit card purchase, ask for the carbons if the retailer is not using carbonless forms.
  6. 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.
  7. 7.Be wary of anyone calling to “confirm” personal or financial information. Often, these are criminals trying to obtain those facts under the guise of “confirmation.”
  8. Thoroughly review all financial statements for any unusual activity. Immediately contact the company if an item looks suspicious.
  9. Never provide any credit card, bank account or other personal information to anyone sending you an unsolicited advertisement selling goods or services, either by e-mail or pop-up advertisement.
  10. Keep good records and save your receipts for returns and exchanges.

Whether you're ordering by mail, phone, or on-line, it is important to keep detailed information about the transaction, including your order number, shipping costs and dates, warranties, and refund and return policies.

Lastly, both on-line and in-person shoppers are advised to pay with a credit card, which provides consumers with protections not afforded by debit cards and other payment options.

Signal 88 Security provided some tips:
  1. When you arrive at a crowded place, don’t ignore signs or barricades which are often placed to control a crowd.
  2. Practice Patience. Often, long lines can lead to short tempers.
  3. Rather than participating in a verbal or physical altercation over an item, know when to walk away
  4. Inside a store, never leave your purse, wallet, phone or shopping cart unattended.
  5. Consider using your pockets instead of your purse. Keep valuables close to your body
  6. Walk with a buddy, especially in a dark parking lot. It can be a theft deterrent.
  7. Leave the kids at home where they wont become a distraction or wander off.
  8. Lock presents in the trunk of your car, where they are out of view. Lock your doors and activate your car alarm.
To report suspected fraud or scams, contact the AG’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, as well as local law enforcement.

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