Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly has urged consumers to exercise caution during the holiday season to avoid common problems, scams and fraud.
“The holidays can be a busy and exciting time, filled with many distractions, so it is important for consumers to think before they spend,” Kelly said. “The pleasure of the holiday season can quickly be spoiled by crimes like identity theft or disputes involving gift purchases.”
Consumers should review important details before making purchases at stores. They should check the exchange and return policy, check gift-card fees and expiration dates, keep all records of purchases and receipts, check receipts for errors before leaving the store, be careful dealing with seasonal businesses that close after the holidays and closely guard their personal belongings, including purses and wallets.
Consumers should be particularly wary of identity theft during the holidays. They should not carry extra credit cards while shopping; they also should not reveal personal account information by e-mail or telephone. Consumers should keep all personal cards and documents in a safe location, shred all unwanted cards, statements and financial solicitations, review all credit card and bank statements for unapproved transactions, and check their credit histories regularly.
Regarding charities, consumers should donate only to those that they are already familiar with and those whose missions they support.
Charities should be able to provide additional information in writing upon request prior to any donor. Those wishing to donate to charity should beware of fake “look-alike” or “sound-alike” organizations that attempt to pass themselves as legitimate charities.
Consumers should never feel pressured into making a donation, and should always be wary of door-to-door solicitors. Contribution checks should be made out to the charity and not to the person collecting the money.
Contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-441-2555 for more information, or visit www.attorneygeneral.gov. ••