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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > December 2019 > Ohio Attorney General Offers Holiday Shopping Tips for Consumers

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Ohio Attorney General Offers Holiday Shopping Tips for Consumers

With the holiday season upon us, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost offers the following holiday consumer protection tips:
  • Beware of e-skimming while shopping online: Cybercriminals can capture credit card and personally identifiable information by skimming your data online. To avoid e-skimming, consider saving your credit card number to your browser so you don’t have to enter it for every purchase. You will still need to enter the CVV number that is on the card to ensure that you physically have access to the card. Also, use credit cards instead of debit cards because credit cards have more protections. Look for the “s” in “https” to ensure the site is secure, and always double check that the site you’re on is the legitimate site for the company.
  • Plan before you shop: Review ads carefully and compare deals. Important exclusions and limitations must be disclosed in ads, even online, so check the details to see if limited quantities of an item are available for sale, if the sale price is valid only during certain hours, or if other terms and conditions apply.
  • Beware of package tracking scams: In a package tracking scam, you may receive an email alerting you of a delay in the shipping of a package. The email will either ask you to provide personal information or to click on a link for additional information. But providing personal information could lead to financial harm or infect your computer with malware. Keep track of who you’ve ordered from, in addition to your shipping confirmation emails. Don’t click on links if you’re not sure who they are from.
  • Check return policies: In Ohio, sellers can set their own return policies, including policies of “no returns.” But if they have a policy that limits your ability to get a refund, they should clearly notify you of that policy before you complete the purchase. Also, be sure to check return periods as they may change during the holidays.
  • Look out for “free” offers that renew automatically: Before signing up for a free trial of a product or service, check the details, especially if you are asked to provide your credit card number or pay for shipping and handling. In many cases, signing up for the offer will automatically enroll you in a program that will charge you on a regular basis.
  • Compare gift cards: Not all gift cards are alike, so review the terms and conditions before you buy. In general, most gift cards must last at least five years, but fees may vary depending on the type of card, such as a single-store card or a prepaid network-branded card that can be used almost anywhere. Also, promotional cards like those that come free with a purchase may not have the same protections.
  • Keep your receipts: Maintaining a complete record of a sale will help you handle problems that may arise after the purchase. Keep copies of receipts, sales agreements, advertisements, photos of products, and other documentation of a sale until the transaction and billing process are complete.
  • Check delivery dates and fees: Carefully review the expected delivery date and shipping costs before you make a purchase. Find out whether you’ll be charged shipping or restocking fees if you return the product. Also, pick up delivered packages promptly so they’re not stolen or damaged outside your door.
  • Monitor your accounts: Regularly check your credit card and bank accounts for unauthorized charges or unexpected activity. If you find problems, immediately notify your credit card provider or bank. The sooner you identify a problem, the sooner you can work to correct it.
Consumers who suspect an unfair business practice or want help addressing a consumer problem should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.