Attorney General Chris Carr is offering important tips to help Georgia consumers shop safely and protect themselves from potential scams this holiday season.
“All Georgians should continue to take the necessary steps to protect their personal and financial information when making purchases this holiday season,” said Carr. “Unfortunately, bad actors will take advantage of the excitement and goodwill spread this time of year by targeting consumers with holiday scams. To help you keep your money safe while shopping, our Consumer Protection Division offers valuable tips and stands ready to assist those who may have concerns.”
Tips for safe shopping and avoiding scams during the holidays:
♦ Research a company before doing business with them. You can check out a company’s reputation through the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org. You can also read consumer reviews by searching online for the company name, along with the word “complaint,” “review” or “scam.”
♦ If possible, use credit cards when making purchases. Credit cards offer greater protections against fraud than cash, checks or debit cards.
♦ Guard against thieves who may steal packages off your doorstep. Track packages so you know when they arrive or have packages shipped to your work address instead of your home.
♦ Check your bank and credit card accounts frequently. If you come across a charge you don’t recognize, contact your bank or credit card issuer immediately. In the event that a fraudulent transaction was made, cancel the compromised card and request that a new one be issued. You should also contact one of the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) to have a fraud alert placed on your account.
♦ Beware of malicious links. Be very wary about clicking on links to advertisements for holiday deals, e-greeting cards, notifications about package delivery problems or warnings about compromised accounts. These may be from scammers who are hoping you will divulge personal or financial information or who are trying to get you to download malware on your computer. If you need to verify a purchase or account status with a retailer, you should contact the company through a verified website or phone number.
♦ Avoid bogus charities. Many charities solicit for donations around the holidays, but scammers like to get in on the action too. Your safest bet is to initiate contact with the charity of your choice through a verified website or phone number. Avoid clicking on ads that pop up in your social media accounts or links from unsolicited emails. You can research a charity by visiting give.org or charitynavigator.org.
♦ Pay close attention to return policies. A business may set its own return policy and may offer consumers cash, in-store credit, exchanges or no adjustment at all. Many stores also set time limits during which they accept returns. While not required to post their policies, businesses must honor any posted refund or return policy.
To report a scam or file a complaint about a business that is using unfair or deceptive practices, contact the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by visiting consumer.ga.gov or calling 404-651-8600.