Attorney General: Protect Your Wallet This Holiday Season

With everybody already in search of Black Friday savings even before the day arrives, there will be many opportunities crossing your social media timeline, in your mailbox, over your phone, and virtually anywhere else somebody wants to sell you something, seek your goodwill support for something, or working to get your cash.

Your Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is throwing up the red flag, however, urging you to “protect your wallet” this holiday season, as she shares a variety of tips to help you keep from losing your shirt, your identity, or your financial resources.

Nessle says, “As many of us prepare to spend our hard-earned money on our loved ones or donate to charities, my office wants to ensure Michiganders are equipped with the necessary tools to make certain they’re not robbed of their generosity.” As a result, she tells us, “Our consumer education team has put together a series of consumer alerts – the 15 Days of Scams calendar – with tips for upcoming shopping or giving days, and a holiday-edition consumer protection newsletter as resources throughout the season.”

Ahead of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday, the following consumer alerts and publications are linked for consumers as useful tools for those preparing to shop or donate:

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  • Drop-shipping – Steps to take to ensure you’re ordering directly from the source instead of helping unnecessary middlemen make a profit.
  • Online Shopping – Tips to protect your personal information while making purchases online.
  • Giving Wisely to Charity – Ways to ensure your donations are going where they’re intended.
  • In-Store-Only Rebates – Tips to ensure Michigan consumers understand the rebate realities of retailers and how they may not actually yield savings.
  • Gifting Circles vs. Gifting Schemes – A resource to ensure you know the difference between gifting circles that ensure money isn’t exchanged and illegal gifting schemes.

Nessel encourages those who venture out to shop in-person or shop online to be mindful of the following:

  • Avoid the crowds. Many retailers make their Black Friday deals available earlier in the week. Avoid the crowded stores by shopping early.
  • Shop local. Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to shop small, support your community and avoid the chaos of big box stores.
  • Do your research. Compare prices for both in-store and online items. Read reviews from reputable sources not only on the product, but also the retailer. Verify the legitimacy of all charities.
  • Give gifts, not personal information. Only shop on secure websites with an “https” address. Stick to shopping apps that tell you what they do with your data and how they keep it secure. Avoid holiday offers that ask you to give financial information – no matter how tempting. They might be trying to steal your identity.
  • Be sure the scanned price is right. Never assume a sale price is accurate, especially if you see a price tag with a higher price crossed out or a “compare to” price noted.
  • Search for coupons or discounts. Check your local newspapers and online for coupons or discount codes to increase your savings.
  • Sign up for alerts from your bank and credit card companies. Ensure no unauthorized charges are made by also monitoring all statements.
  • If possible, make purchases with your credit card. Credit cards offer more protection and limit your liability if stolen or unauthorized charges are made.
  • Ensure all purchases are accounted for. Keep all receipts, warranties and order confirmations handy.
  • Know the retailer’s return policy and terms of layaway or no-interest plans.
  • Only buy gift cards that are kept behind the store’s customer service counter or activated when you check out.

Beginning next Monday, December 2nd and continuing through December 20th,  the 15 Days of Scams will be a special section on the Attorney General’s homepage to educate consumers on the numerous tactics used to cheat them out of their funds. You will find that link beginning next Monday at this address:

https://www.michigan.gov/ag

Follow the AG’s official Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages along with subscribing to the department’s consumer alerts to receive the most up-to-date to date consumer news.

This holiday season, consumers are encouraged to contact the Consumer Protection Division to file a complaint online or via phone by calling 877-765-8388.