Consumer protection tips assist holiday shoppers

Review sales slip before leaving store for any discrepancies
December 4, 2013

Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden provided a series of tips for holiday shoppers making gift purchases online and in stores, and reminded shoppers to let his office's Consumer Protection Unit know if they believe they have been the target of a scam.

“While holiday shoppers are focused on finding the perfect gifts for their loved ones, be aware that criminals are trying to defraud consumers and steal from them,” Biden said. “Don't let these thieves steal any of your holiday cheer.”

Biden says shoppers should observe the following precaustions:

Purchase only from reputable retailers and make sure they have a physical address and phone number in case of problems with the purchase; do not send personal or financial information through email; pay with a credit card, which provides consumers with protections not afforded by debit cards and other payment options; read the fine print and the product description very closely to ensure that they understand exactly what they are purchasing; and find out shipping and return policies before purchase.

Online shoppers should also comparison shop and figure out total cost, including shipping charges; keep a record of all transactions and print records of online orders, including confirmation page; place orders only when they know the site is secure - if a site is secure, the web address will begin with "https" rather than "http," and a locked padlock icon will be visible at the bottom right of computer screen; protect computers with antivirus and antispyware programs and be creative with passwords set up for online stores.

When the shopping is done, consumers should check their credit card and bank statements often. By the time the credit card bill or bank statements arrive in January, a thief may have already made unauthorized charges.

Shoppers making purchases in person should take the following steps: verify advertised sale price and the price the store is charging; monitor cash registers; find out store’s return policy, including return fees; and review the sales slip before leaving a store for any discrepancies.

Delawareans can report suspected fraudulent activity by contacting Biden’s Consumer Protection Unit at or 1-800-220-5424.