Senator Flanagan Offers Holiday Shopping Tips

 

            As our region enjoys the holiday season, Senator John J. Flanagan (2nd Senate District) is reminding all Long Islanders to make sure they protect their identity and to be aware of consumer scams as they start retail and online shopping.  To help residents, Senator Flanagan has established a special section on his web site – Helpful Holiday Shopping and Safety Tips – to help make the holiday season safer for shoppers. 


            Consumers can visit this new section by clicking here.


            To assist shoppers, Senator Flanagan and the New York State Division of Consumer Protection (NYSDCP) offer the following advice regarding refunds and rebates:


REFUNDS: A store is legally required to post their refund policy.  If the store does not post their return policy, the law requires the store to accept your return within 30 days of purchase.  There is no requirement under NYS law for a store to offer a refund in the form of cash, credit, replacement merchandise or other means.  Retailers must provide a written copy of the store’s refund policies and disclose any fees associated with the return. 


REBATES: Any advertisement featuring a rebate must clearly (1) feature the actual selling price and advise that a mail-in rebate is required in order to achieve any advertised lower net rebate price; and (2) disclose to consumers how the rebate will be returned to the consumer (by check, gift card or credit towards future purchase); and, (3) whether the consumer will incur any additional fees redeeming such rebates. 


            They NYSDCP suggested the following questions to ask


·         Ask for a copy of the refund policy.


·         Ask if the store imposes a re-stocking fee for returned merchandise?


·         Ask if the merchandise has to be in a certain condition for the return to be accepted?


·         Save all receipts for purchases to allow for ease of returns.


·         Ask for details about the advertised rebate.


·         Does the store offer rainchecks?  If yes, what are the terms and does it expire.


·         How does the store notify the customer when the product is available?


            Senator Flanagan also joined with the NYSDCP to offer advice to those who will be shopping online this holiday season:


·         Before entering your personal information, check to see that ”https” precedes the Internet address and a closed lock or an unbroken key symbol is present in the lower portion of your web browser.


·         Don’t transmit sensitive information in a public Wi-Fi hotspot you don’t trust, even if the transmission is encrypted.


·         After making a purchase online, be sure to print out the receipt and confirmation information for your records. Also, print, date and save a copy of terms, conditions, warranties, item description and company information from which you purchase the item.


·         Look at your purchase carefully as soon as you receive it. Contact the seller as soon as possible if you discover a problem. Tell the seller in writing about any problems you have, ask for a repair or refund, and keep a copy of your correspondence.


·         Carefully choose the online websites from which you purchase. Look for third-party privacy verification.


·         Check for feedback about sellers on auction sites before conducting business. Avoid shady sellers and odd listings.


·         Double check the total price and quantity.


·         Check whether the item has been recalled by visiting the recall pages of the federal Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC.gov).


·         Compare prices and availability for specific items at stores and other sites. Consider carefully whether you are paying too much for an item, especially on auction sites.


·         Make sure you know the shipping and handling, return, and refund policies and that there are no extra shipping or handling costs.


·         Use a dedicated credit card to allow an easy review of purchases.


·         Find and read the website’s privacy policy to find out what a site will do with any personal information you divulge.


·         Use complex passwords and change them regularly.


·         Periodically delete your web browser’s “cookies.”


·         Make sure you keep your operating system, firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware programs current by regularly downloading updates which contain security patches.


·         Never respond to e-mails from “sellers” or anyone asking for your passwords, Social Security number or other personal information.


            "There are a great number of legitimate and conscientious businesses who offer quality goods and services but shoppers need to be aware of scams to protect themselves from those who would steal their identity and their money.  I urge everyone who will be shopping to take some time to visit our web site to get the information they need to protect themselves.  By following some simple tips and staying alert, we can all have a happier and safer holiday season,” stated Senator Flanagan.


            For more holiday shopping tips, including links to product recalls and additional consumer protection advice, visit the Helpful Holiday Safety and Shopping Tips.


            If you would like to order a free brochure from Senator Flanagan about protecting yourself from identity theft during the holiday season, please call his office at 631-361-2154 or send an e-mail with your name and address to flanagan@nysenate.gov.