Consumer Ed’s holiday shopping tips

Don’t leave your purse or wallet in the front of the shopping cart or otherwise unattended while you browse for another item.

Make a shopping list; this can help you avoid impulse buys.

Make a budget and stick to it.

Price compare. If buying online, remember to factor in shipping and handling charges. Some stores may offer free shipping.

Even if a store is advertising discounts, you should still comparison shop to make sure that the sale price is truly a bargain.

Find out what the store’s refund policies are, especially on sale items.

Keep your receipts in case you have to return an item.

Find out what the layaway policies are before you put something on layaway.

Purchase gift cards only from reputable stores.  Be wary of gift cards sold on auction sites; they may be fraudulent, stolen or have fewer funds remaining than the seller claims.

If making online purchases:

  • Buy through well-known companies. If unsure, check the company’s reputation through the Better Business Bureau’s website (
  • Credit cards offer better protections against fraud than debit cards.

Don’t get scammed by fraudulent charities:

  • Make sure you know who the charity is and that it is reputable. You can check out a charity by going to
  • Don’t give in to high pressure tactics.
  • A legitimate charity will never insist that you provide your credit card number, bank account information or other personal information.

“Consumer Ed” is brought to you by the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection. Visit for additional consumer tips for your car, home, credit and debt, finances and more.

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