Top Tips For Consumers To Be Savvy Shoppers This Holiday Season

Examine the card for any signs of tampering. Crooks can copy numbers from cards and wait for them to be activated.

Be wary of bargains and “sale” prices. Delivery charges and/or other added costs such as assembly fees are often not reflected in the “sale price.” In many cases, hidden costs like these negate the value of the sale. In other cases, a product offered at a certain price may be available only if purchased with other items.

Know the terms of layaway plans— A merchant must give you a written layaway agreement, spelling out your rights and obligations, when you buy an item on layaway. If the seller does not comply, you can cancel the agreement and get a full refund. Consumers have the right to cancel a layaway agreement within seven days and receive all the money they’ve already paid. A merchant may only keep 10 percent of the full price of the item if a contract is cancelled after eight days or more, or if the consumer does not make a payment within 15 days of a due date.

No-interest financing can cost you plenty— While no-interest plans can save you money, many carry hidden charges. For example, some offers have a time limit. If you don’t pay off the amount of the purchase within the time period allotted, you are then charged interest on the entire purchase amount.

Alternatively, some offers inflate the selling price to make up the difference. Consumers should read the fine print and understand the terms of the agreement before signing.

For more information and additional tips, follow the Office of Attorney General at: www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov.