PHOENIX – Ahead of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday, Attorney General Kris Mayes today offered tips for consumers to avoid scams when shopping for holiday gifts or donating to charities.
"The Attorney General’s Office encourages everyone to enjoy the holidays, but reminds Arizonans to avoid the Grinch by exercising caution when shopping for gifts and donating to charities," said Attorney General Mayes.
Tips for In-person Shopping
- Before making a purchase, ask what the return policy is as return policies vary. Ask if the store charges a “restocking fee” for returned items, and if so, how much. Get this in writing.
- Bring the paper or online ads for sales or “special deals” to the store. It is deceptive advertising to promote sales or “deals” but fail to honor those terms. Make sure the prices advertised are honored.
- Buy from businesses you know or trust.
- If possible, pay by credit card so your transaction is protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act, which allows you to dispute unauthorized charges.
- Keep your receipts.
- Know what you are getting if you purchase gift cards, including fees or expiration dates; Arizona law requires visible printed disclosures listing expiration dates or fees before purchase.
Tips for Safer Online Holiday Shopping
- Make sure your computer has updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software, updated spam filters, and a secure firewall.
- Shop stores with secure website addresses that begin with “https” (the “s” stands for secure), and that have a small padlock or unbroken key icon at the top or bottom of your browser before entering your credit card number.
- Check the website carefully and make sure you are on the store’s official website.
- If you are considering making a purchase based on a social media post or advertisement, research the company. Use a search engine to visit the company’s actual website or search the company’s name with “scam” or “complaint” and see if the company has a track record of keeping its promises.
- Don’t pay by debit card, money wire transfers, cryptocurrency, cash apps or gift cards if possible. Once you send the funds, it is difficult to get your money back and these types of payments should be considered the same as using cash.
- Be especially cautious of unsolicited e-mails offering “deals” that ask you to click on a link or open an attachment. Don’t reply to the e-mail or provide personal identifying information.
- Do your homework and research before making charitable donations. The FTC has more tips on how to research charities before giving here.
- Watch out for charities with names that sound like well-known organizations but are fake.
- Never provide personal or financial information to a solicitor on the phone or at your door, or by text or email.
- Beware of delivery scams. Con artists pose as a delivery service and call or send a text message asking you to confirm your credit card number to pay for the delivery of a package.
- Stay vigilant against phishing attempts. Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems to lure consumers into revealing financial information. If you receive such an email, call the business directly by searching online for the business’s website and using the number listed there.
If you believe you have been a victim of consumer fraud, please contact the Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628- 6648, or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at 1 (800) 352-8431. Consumers can also file complaints online by visiting the Attorney General’s website at www.azag.gov/consumer.