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Shoppers Need to be Cautious and Aware of Their Rights This Holiday Season, Freeholder Director Vicari Said

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SEARCHING FOR the perfect holiday gift? Then shop smart and always be aware of your rights, said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari

“Not every holiday gift is the perfect gift,” Vicari said. “To make after-holiday returns as painless as possible, always review a store’s return policy.”

Every retail establishment in New Jersey is required to disclose its refund policy. The disclosure must either be:

  • On a sign attached to the merchandise itself.
  • On a sign affixed to each cash register at the point of sale.
  • On a sign that can be easily viewed by the consumer while standing at the cash register.
  • On a sign posted at each store entrance used by consumers.

The disclosure must note that you have the option of either a cash refund, credit card credit or store credit, provided the merchandise you are returning has not been used or damaged. It also must inform you if there are any other terms or conditions that must be met in order for you to receive a refund.

“Following a few commonsense guidelines can ensure that shopping for friends and loved ones is a fun and joyous part of the holiday season,” Vicari said.

Shopping locally in Ocean County also makes returns easier, he said.

“Buying local not only supports our many Mom & Pop businesses, but ensures that if you do have a problem, our Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs can help,” Vicari said. “Our office may have more jurisdiction when dealing with a nearby business than it would with a mail-order company or website located out of state.”

Vicari advised shoppers to also be aware of frauds.

“Unfortunately, the holiday season also sees an increase in scams,” Vicari said. “The good news is alert consumers can often stop a scam before it starts.”

Credit card “skimmers” are one way a thief can steal a credit card in less than one second.

While legitimate credit card machines scan the magnetic strip on the back of the card and apply the purchase to your account, an unscrupulous employee could scan the card a second time using a personal handheld device.

“Always keep your eye on your credit card when you hand it to a store or gas station employee,” said Vicari, who is also liaison to the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs. “Keep all of your receipts and carefully compare them to your credit card or bank statements. Report any discrepancies as soon as possible.”

While new chip-enhanced credit and debit cards can foil many skimmers, Vicari said not all consumers have received their new cards.

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