North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice
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Shop smarter during the holidays

You can make the holidays even more enjoyable by avoiding potential headaches,
shopping smart and spending wisely. Here’s how.
 
 
  • Buy from stores you know to improve the odds that you’ll be able to return or exchange a purchase if needed. To check out a company’s track record, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or contact your local Better Business Bureau.
 
  • Shop safely online, too.  Stick to buying from well-established companies with secure web sites (look for a lock icon on the site and a web address that starts with “https”). Get the company’s street address and telephone number and verify them before you order.
 
  • Learn about refund and return policies. Stores aren’t required by law to accept returned merchandise, so ask about refunds and return policies before you buy. 
 
  • Consider paying by credit card to improve your chances of getting a refund if the retailer goes out of business. If you order a gift that never arrives, you may be able to dispute the charge. If your credit card is lost or stolen, federal law limits your liability to $50. 
 
  • Giving gift cards or certificates? If you buy a gift certificate and the store or restaurant closes before the certificate can be used, you may be able to contest the charge if you paid by credit card. Under North Carolina law, retailers can’t charge a maintenance fee on their gift cards within the first year and must clearly disclose any fees they’ll deduct after that. 
 
  • Give wisely.  Planning to make a donation as part of your holiday gift giving? Learn where your money will go and how it will be used. Research charities with the BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance and the NC Secretary of State’s Office. Give to causes that you choose rather than being swayed by high-pressure telemarketers or text messages and emails that may be scams.
 
  • Criminals and scammers don’t take a holiday. Always be aware of your surroundings and protect your wallet and access to your credit or debit cards when in public. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. And never share personal information with telemarketers who call you or respond to emails or text messages that ask you for personal information.
  
 
If you spot a scam or need to complain about a business, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file a complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov.