Consumer Affairs: Tips For Safe & Smart Holiday Shopping

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FREEHOLD – Before you set out to check all those gifts off your Christmas shopping list, the Monmouth County Division of Consumer Affairs and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) want to make sure you’re prepared.

“The Division of Consumer Affairs protects against consumer frauds and dishonest, deceitful business practices by enforcing New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and other regulations,” said Deputy Director Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Beyond the winter holidays, the Consumer Affairs staff is available to assist County residents who believe they may be victims of fraud or unfair business.”

The FTC provides the following tips for holiday shopping:

  • Make a List: Write down the items you want to purchase, but also incidentals such as wrapping paper, cards and dining out.
  • Price Check: In stores, make sure the scanned prices for your purchases are correct. Overcharges cost time and money, especially when they are not noticed right away.
  • Seek Out Reviews: Before buying anything based on an online review, search for information from a trusted source. Browsing the internet for different prices may help keep you on budget.
  • Don’t Get Fooled: If you use your smartphone or computer to shop for deals, be wary of unexpected emails, texts or notifications that may flood your device. Fraudulent websites will advertise to consumers claiming bargains on a variety of brand names.
  • Save Your Receipts: When online shopping, keep copies of order numbers, refund policies, shipping costs and warranties.
  • Be Aware of Warranties: Even though it is not required by law, warranties come with the majority of major purchases.
  • Safe & Secure Delivery: Have packages delivered to a secure location or if someone is home. If no one is home, have the package delivered to work or see if a neighbor can be on the look-out.

“Monmouth County consumers contact us to say a favorite restaurant or nail salon is under new ownership and they cannot use their gift certificate. Another example would be a consumer may find that the furniture store where they recently placed an order is now empty,” said Annmarie DeVito, director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “The Consumer Affairs staff can provide assistance and help County residents resolve all types of consumer-related issues.”

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For more information, visit visitmonmouth.com, call 732-431-7900 or email consumeraffairs@co.monmouth.nj.us.