New Yorkers Encouraged to Exercise Caution While Shopping This Holiday Season
Black Friday shopping tips:
- Take Note of the Purchase and Use Rules Related to Gift Cards -- Consumers should carefully review the terms and conditions of use prior to purchasing a gift certificate or card, including the imposition of various fees, especially 'dormancy fees' for non-use. Consumers should also check the card's expiration date and determine if there are any restrictions on the use of the gift card. They should be aware of the replacement policy in case it is lost or stolen.
- Be Careful Purchasing Big Ticket Items -- When purchasing big ticket items, consumers should look for warranty coverage on the item; check out stock availability; and, evaluate financing options carefully. As consumers comb retail advertisements, they should take note of the fine print and the quantity of the product available at the advertised price, as well as whether rain checks are available.
- Understand Layaway Plans -- Layaway plans vary by store. Consumers should make sure they read all of the terms in the contract and have their questions answered regarding the payment schedules, refund policies and penalties for missing a payment before moving forward with a layaway. A copy of the contract and a record of payments should be retained by the purchaser.
- Read the Retailers Refund and Return Policy -- Consumers should review a store's refund policy before considering a purchase. If the store does not post a return policy, the law requires the store to accept a receipted return within 30 days of purchase. It is important to inquire whether the store imposes a re-stocking fee for returned merchandise and determine prior to purchase if the item can be returned for a refund or store credit only.
- Avoid Credit Card Debt -- If not careful, holiday purchases may cost consumers more than what is on their receipt. Consumers are urged to avoid credit card debt by tracking their spending, being cognizant of credit card limits, stick to a realistic budget and verify receipts and reconcile them against their statement. In addition, consumers should refrain from using their credit card for cash advances. The fees and interest on such transactions are higher than for credit card purchases. Always review your monthly credit card statements carefully to ensure that you are being billed for the correct dollar amount.
Cyber Monday Online Shopping Tips:
- Protect your Computer. Keep your operating system and application software updated on all computers and mobile devices. Be sure to check that your anti-virus/anti-spyware software is running and receiving automatic updates. Confirm that your firewall is enabled.
- Be Wary of Ads. Avoid clicking on banner ads or pop-ups since they may link to a malicious website. If you see an advertisement from a reputable brand for a deal or promotion that you are interested in, go to the company's website directly for more information.
- Shop Safely. Before making an online purchase, make sure the website uses secure technology. Verify the web address begins with "HTTPS". The "s" stands for "secure" and indicates that communication with the webpage is encrypted. Do not use public computers or public Wi-Fi for your online shopping. Public computers may be compromised with malicious software that steals your credit card information when placing an online order. Traffic on public wireless networks may also be intercepted by criminals to steal credit card numbers and other personal information.
- Keep Documentation of your Order. Save records of your online transactions, including the product description and price, the online receipt, and the emails you send and receive from the merchant. Review your credit card statements to confirm that all charges are legitimate. If you have unauthorized charges on your account, contact your credit card company immediately.
The New York State Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) was created in 2012 to transform IT services in an effort to make New York State government work smarter for its citizens and enable the state to be accessible for businesses through the use of technology. ITS provides statewide IT strategic direction, directs IT policy and delivers centralized IT products and services that support the mission of the State. ITS operates data centers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to support statewide mission-critical applications for over 50 Agencies, over 17 million citizen accounts, 120,000 employee accounts, 60,000 phones, 99,000 desktops and laptops, and 3,433 Virtual Desktop remote connections. ITS operates a secure network of over 1,600 miles of fiber to deliver telecommunications, Internet and Intranet services, enterprise email systems and support, IT training, networking, data storage and processing to State government entities in addition to developing new services in support of citizens, businesses and State Agencies.