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Financial safety for the upcoming holiday shopping season

Better to be safe than sorry!

Laura Tucker, Senior Deputy of the Nevada Attorney General, Bureau of Consumer Protection is giving financial safety tips during the holidays.

For in-store smarts shopping suggestions:

— Whenever possible, conduct research prior to buying your item to familiarize yourself with the product and best available pricing.

— Read all promotional advertisements carefully, including any fine print. To ensure you are given the same promotion in-store, bring a copy of the retailer’s advertisement with you.

— Some retailers may offer layaway plans or other payment plans so you can pay for that must-have holiday gift over time or at a later time. Before you agree to such a plan in-person or online, be sure to ask whether the retailer charges fees to use its payment programs and whether the payments and fees are refundable if a purchase is canceled or must be returned.

— During the transaction, monitor the cash register to ensure you are being charged the correct price and that your coupons are being applied.

— When purchasing a warranty or extended warranty in-store or online, be sure you understand the terms, including what is and is not covered.

— Carefully review the terms and fine print before purchasing a gift card. Some merchants may charge a gift card purchase fee and/or an inactivity fee.

— While shopping, try to limit the number of credit cards in your wallet to only those you intend to use.

Smart shopping suggestions for online users:

— When ordering gifts online, be sure your browser has a secure connection. Look for signs that the website is secure, such as the “https” in the address bar or the padlock symbol.

— Use a credit card instead of a debit card to shop online whenever possible. Both payment methods allow you to dispute a charge if the merchandise never arrives or is different from what was ordered. However, with a debit card, the price will have already been deducted from your bank account.

— When shopping online, there are often additional costs such as shipping and handling fees. Be sure to include additional charges when comparing prices across multiple websites.

— Keep your receipts and be sure you understand the retailer’s return and refund policies so you can return any unwanted items in a timely manner and get a full refund. A retailer’s online policies may differ from in-store policies. Certain retailers may charge a percentage of the price of the item for “restocking” an item that is returned. These fees most often apply to larger purchases such as furniture, electronic equipment or appliances.

— Thoroughly review all financial statements for any unusual activity. Immediately contact the company if an item looks suspicious.

— 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.”

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