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Tips for Safe Holiday Shopping

With the holiday shopping season in full-swing, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and the Retailers Association of Massachusetts teamed up to offer tips for safe holiday shopping.

These tips are broken down for in-store shopping and online shopping.

Shopping at a Store

  1. Know that gift cards are good for seven years. If you're using a gift certificate you received from another year to purchase gifts for this year, under state law it must be good for seven years. This is true regardless of store policy.

  2. Read return policies before you purchase. Massachusetts stores are required to disclose return policies prior to the transaction.

  3. Check your bank and credit card statements for suspicious activity. Ask for a copy of the store's privacy policy or read the website's privacy policy to understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used.

  4. Take advertisements with you. Businesses must honor the price displayed in its advertisement, even if incorrect. And if a store runs out of a product, check the ad to see if they are offering rain checks. Under state law, businesses must offer rain checks unless they otherwise state in their advertisements that they will not.

Shopping online

  1. Shop only on trusted websites. Make sure the check-out page has a "lock" symbol and that the website is encrypted.

  2. Pay with a credit card. Credit cards offer an added layer of consumer protection as consumers can dispute unauthorized charges.

  3. Check reviews of the store. If you are not making a purchase from a major store like Best Buy or Target, make sure you are dealing with a reputable business. This shouldn't be too hard as there are many websites that review retailers.

These are just some tips for safe holiday shopping that you should keep in mind. Happy shopping.

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