April 16, 2014

Medina
Partly cloudy
35°F

Black Friday shoppers urged to be safe, alert

From staff reports

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine reminds Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers to stay safe with their money: Avoid scams, keep receipts and examine warranties.

“Keeping an eye out for fraudsters and gimmicks and clearly understanding the terms of a purchase will go a long way toward making sure the holidays are safe and hassle free,” DeWine said in a statement.

DeWine urged shoppers to be on financial guard with the following tips:

• Use gift cards as soon as possible. Most last five years, but fees could be applied if you hold on to them too long. Plus, if the company goes out of business, you’ve lost the value on the card.

• When making a major purchase, look into return policies, restocking fees and warranties — just in case. Hold on to receipts and user manuals.

• Only carry the money you need for a certain trip. Keep account numbers in a secure place so you can quickly contact banks and credit card companies in the event of theft.

• If shopping online, make sure your website is secure before entering private information like your credit card number. This can be done by checking that the first letters are “https” and not “http.”

• Ignore text messages around Black Friday that claim you’ve won a prize or gift card, even if you recognize the name of the institution. Contact the company directly if you think you may have won something.

• Examine the terms of layaway plans before you agree to them. It’s possible to lose the item and the money you’ve put down on it if you fall behind on payments.

Shoppers can visit www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov for more information.

If shoppers believe they’ve been treated unfairly, DeWine encourages them to call his office at (800) 282-0515.

“If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” DeWine said.