Nine tips to staying financially safe during the holidays

More from this show

Consumer spending rises significantly during the holidays season, and along with increased spending comes a higher risk of fraud. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich joins Arizona Horizon to offer nine tips to staying financially safe during the holidays:

  • Know retailers return policy
  • Make sure advertised price matches in-store price
  • Check receipt for accuracy
  • Treat gift cards like cash
  • Use credit card (not a debit card) when shopping online
  • Use secure and reputable websites
  • Regularly monitor credit card and bank statements
  • Research recall notices before buying gifts for kids
  • Save all warranties and service agreements

Anyone who suspects they have been a victim of fraud or identity theft are encouraged to contact the Arizona Attorney General’s office. More consumer tips can also be found at the Arizona Attorney General website.

 

TED SIMONS: IN OUR MONTHLY LOOK AT CONSUMER ISSUES, THIS "IS" THE SEASON FOR HOLIDAY SHOPPING, ON-LINE AND OTHERWISE. JOINING US NOW WITH SOME CONSUMER TIPS DESIGNED TO KEEP YOU AND YOUR CREDIT CARD AND OTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION SAFE IS ARIZONA ATTORNEY GENERAL MARK BRNOVICH. GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

MARK BRNOVICH: ALWAYS A PLEASURE TED.

TED SIMONS: CONSUMER SCAMS UPTICK DURING THE HOLIDAYS.

MARK BRNOVICH: YEAH, UNFORTUNATELY. THE HOLIDAYS BRING OUT THE BEST IN PEOPLE, OUR GENEROSITY AS ARIZONANS, BUT IT ALSO BRINGS OUT THE SCAMMERS, CROOKS, AND CON ARTISTS WHO WORK ON CRIMES OF OPPORTUNITY.

TED SIMONS: THIS ISN’T NECESSARILY DESIGNED AROUND SCAMS BUT IT’S SOMETHING TO KEEP IN MIND GOING THROUGH THE HOLIDAY SEASON. KNOW THE RETAILER'S RETURN POLICY. TALK TO US ABOUT THAT.

MARK BRNOVICH: THERE ARE PLACES YOU SHOP WHERE NO MATTER IF YOU HAVE A RECEIPT, YOU CAN RETURN SOMETHING. THERE ARE OTHER STORES OUT THERE THAT WHEN YOU BUY SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO HAVE A RECEIPT TO RETURN, SOMETIMES YOU CAN ONLY RETURN MERCHANDISE, SOMETIMES THE RETURN IS ONLY GOOD FOR 30 DAYS. KNOW THE POLICY. YOU DON'T WANT TO BUY SOMETHING, WAIT TWO OR THREE WEEKS AND NEXT THING YOU KNOW, THEY WON'T LET YOU RETURN IT. TIMELINESS AND MAKE SURE YOU KNOW IF YOU DON'T HAVE A RECEIPT, YOU DON'T ALWAYS GET THE CASH BACK.

TED SIMONS: NEXT, BE SURE PRICES MATCH THE POSTED PRICE. HOW OFTEN DO YOU SEEN DISCREPANCIES THERE?

MARK BRNOVICH: THIS IS ONE THING I WILL TELL YOU FROM MY OWN EXPERIENCES, IT’S ONE OF MY PET PEEVES. IF YOU SEE AN ADVERTISED PRICE, I TELL FOLKS TO BRING THE NEWSPAPER FLYER WITH THEM. THEY HAVE GOT TO HONOR THE PRICE.

TED SIMONS: IS THAT THE LAW?

MARK BRNOVICH: IT IS. IF YOU ARE A MERCHANT GUILTY OF FALSE ADVERTISING, OUR OFFICE CAN FILE CIVIL ACTIONS AND YOU CAN FACE A $10,000 FINE VIOLATION. NOW THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS, YOU WILL SEE THE FINE PRINT SAYING, ONLY FIVE AVAILABLE AT THIS PRICE OR WHATEVER IT IS, BUT WE WANT THE CONSUMER TO KNOW IF THEY ARE ADVERTISING SOMETHING AND THAT PRICE IS SUPPOSED TO BE LOCATED WHERE IT IS, THEY HAVE TO HONOR THE PRICE THAT THEY’VE GOT LISTED. IT'S MY PET PEEVE. WE'LL GO AFTER THEM.

TED SIMONS: AFTER YOU GET THROUGH THE LINE, CHECK THE RECEIPT.

MARK BRNOVICH: SOMETIMES THE ITEM MAY NOT SCAN RIGHT IN TERMS OF THE PRICE. YOU MAY GET DOUBLE CHARGED FOR SOMETHING. THERE’S ALL THESE THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN SO EVEN BEFORE YOU LEAVE OR WHILE YOU LEAVE, YOU SHOULD MAKE SURE YOU CHECK THAT RECEIPT TO MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS RIGHT.

TED SIMONS: TRICKIER IN TIMES WE SEE SO MUCH E-MAIL RECEIPTS AND SO MUCH ELECTRONIC.

MARK BRNOVICH: MY WIFE AND I HAVE AN ONGOING DISCUSSION BECAUSE SHE LIKES EMAIL RECEIPTS. I PHYSICALLY SAY, NO, NO. I WANT TO SEE IT, HAVE IT AND LOOK AT IT BEFORE I LEAVE THE STORE AND GET THE EMAIL.

TED SIMONS: DUDES ARE LIKE THAT. AS FAR AS CREDIT CARDS NOW, I’M SORRY GIFT CARDS ARE PRETTY MUCH LIKE CASH?

MARK BRNOVICH: TREAT 'EM LIKE CASH. IF YOU LOSE 'EM, ANYONE CAN USE 'EM. YOU WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU TREAT THOSE LIKE CASH. ALSO IF YOU ARE PURCHASING ANYTHING ONLINE, USE A CREDIT CARD, NOT YOUR DEBIT CARD. THERE IS LESS LIABILITY FOR YOU PERSONALLY. YOU DON'T WANT A SITUATION WHERE SOMEONE DRAINS YOUR DEBIT CARD IF ITS AN IMPROPER WEBSITE.

TED SIMONS: USING YOUR CREDIT CARD WHILE SHOPPING ONLINE IS PRETTY MUCH MANDATORY.

MARK BRNOVICH: YES I WOULD NEVER USE MY DEBIT CARD ONLINE. NOT ONLY THAT JUST MAKE SURE YOU’RE GOING TO LEGITIMATE WEBSITES. WE HAVE TIPS ON OUR WEBSITE, A-Z-AG.GOV, BUT THE BOTTOM LINE IS, IF IT'S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS.

TED SIMONS: YOU TALKED ABOUT REPUTABLE WEBSITES WHEN SHOPPING ONLINE. HOW DO YOU KNOW?

MARK BRNOVICH: WELL THERE IS A CERTAIN LANGUAGE. YOU LOOK FOR THAT H-T-T-P-S.

TED SIMONS: THAT'S A BIGGIE, ISN'T IT?

MARK BRNOVICH : YES. YOU WANT TO SEE THAT. AND SOMETIMES A LOT OF FRAUDULENT WEBSITES LOOK VERY VERY CONVINCING. TYPE IT IN RIGHT AND MAKE SURE IT'S A SECURE WEBSITE AS WELL.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS USING YOUR CREDIT CARD AGAIN AS WITH CHECKING RECEIPTS, CHECK YOUR STATEMENTS.

MARK BRNOVICH: ABSOLUTELY. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT REALLY REALLY WORRIES ME. LAST TIME WE WERE ON, WE TALKED ABOUT THE EQUIFAX DATA BREACH. SO MUCH INFORMATION NOW HASE BEEN STOLEN WEVE SEEN THESE SIGNIFICANT DATA BREACHES. A LOT OF TIMES CROOKS, OR IDENTITY THEFT OR SCAMMERS WILL DO IS WAIT TO USE YOUR INFORMATION OR MAKE A PURCHASE. SOMETIMES THEY MAKE A SMALL PURCHASE AND SEE IF YOU CATCH IT OR NOT. THEN THEY GO IN FOR THE BIG KILL AND BUY SOMETHING FOR THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.

TED SIMONS: YOU WERE ON LAST TIME AND YOU SAID THAT AND I'M CHECKING MY STATEMENT FOR A $2 OR A $4 FROM THE SAME STORE.

MARK BRNOVICH: IT’S UNFORTUNATE TED THAT WE LIVE IN A DAY AND AGE WE HAVE TO BE VIGILANT. ALOT OF TIMES IN THE OLD DAYS, A GUN AND KNIFE WE SAW THE CRIME. NOW DAYS, YOU’RE SEEING IT WITH PENS AND ID THEFT AND CREDIT CARDS.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS RECALL NOTICES, CHECK THOSE AS WELL, ESPECIALLY BUYING KIDS STUFF, CORRECT?

MARK BRNOVICH: YEAH. THERE ARE WEBSITES WITH INFORMATION. YOU HAVE TO BE SAFE WITH YOUNG KIDS. YOU SEE TOXINS IN THE PLASTIC, BIOHAZARDS OR CHOKING HAZARDS AND YOU JUST WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU’RE AWARE OF THAT. OR AS WE'VE SEEN EVEN WITH KID'S FURNITURE, SOME RETAILERS HAD TO ISSUE RECALLS BECASUE THE FURNITURE WOULD TIP OVER AND SEVERELY INJURING CHILDREN.

TED SIMONS: HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS? LETS SAY YOU'RE SHOPPING RIGHT NOW YOU SEE A NICE LITTLE DOLL HOUSE OR SOMETHING, HOW DO YOU KNOW THE DOLL HOUSE ISN'T A PROBLEM?
MARK BRNOVICH: ONCE AGAIN THERE'S INFORMATION ON OUR WEBSITE THAT FOLKS CAN GO TO. THERE ARE WEBSITES WHERE ALL OF THE RECALL INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE AS WELL. A LOT OF PURCHASES, ESPECIALLY BIG PURCHASES, YOU CAN SIGN UP TO GET NOTIFICATION FOR RECALLS. THAT WAY IF SOMETHING HAPPENS YOU GET AN AFFIRMATIVE NOTICE IF THERE'S BEEN A RECALL. SOMETIMES IN AUTOMIBILES AND STUFF. YOU HAVE TO BE VIGILANT. THERE'S INFORMATION ON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S WEBSITE AS WELL, RECALLED ITEMS. CHECK THOSE AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN.

TED SIMONS: LAST ONE HERE IS SAVING WARRANTIES, SAVING SERVICE AGREEMENTS THOSE SORT OF THINGS. DON'T TOSS THEM. DON'T IGNORE THEM.

MARK BRNOVICH: THIS IS ACTUALLY BASED EVEN ON MY OWN EXPERIENCE, ONCE AGAIN. WE HAD AN ISSUE WITH OUR AIR CONDITIONING CONDENSER. THE FOLKS THAT CAME OUT TO FIX IT SAID IT WAS NOT UNDER WARRATY AND I SAID WE BOUGHT THE EXTENDED WARRANTY AND WE HAD A BIG ARGUMENT ABOUT IT, AND THANK GOODNESS MY WIFE SAVED IT. AND I PULLED IT OUT AND THE GUY WAS LIKE CAN I GET A PICTURE OF THAT?

TED SIMONS: THIS IS A MIRROR UNIVERSE. AIR CONDITIONER, WIFE SAVED IT. SAME THING WITH US. REALLY, THE SAME THING HAPPENED WITH US.

MARK BRNOVICH: I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE. YOU HAVE TO BE AWARE OF THIS STUFF. I THANK GOODNESS THAT MY WIFE SAVED THE WARRANTY. I WAS NOT BEING CONVINCING TO THE AIR CONDITIONING COMPANY.

TED SIMONS: WE HAVE A MINUTE LEFT. IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE HAD A PROBLEM. YOU HAVE BEEN SCAMMED, SOMEONE DIDN'T DO YOU RIGHT. WHERE DO YOU GO? WHAT DO YOU DO?

MARK BRNOVICH: GO TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE. WE'VE MADE THIS A PRIORITY. CONSUMER PROTECTION IS A BIG DEAL. WE'VE GONE AFTER A LOT OF COMPANIES NEXT WEEK, FOLKS INVOLVED IN THE THERNOS CASE, WE MADE SURE THAT WE GOT REFUNDS FOR EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO PURCHASED A BLOOD TEST, SO THOSE REFUNDS WILL BE GOING OUT. WE'VE BEEN VERY ACTIVE, AS YOUR KNOW WE'RE SUING VOLKSWAGEN, GENERAL MOTORS, BIG STUFF OR SMALL STUFF OUR OFFICE HAS BEEN AGGRESSIVE AND PROTECTING CONSUMERS BECAUSE I'M AN ARIZONA CONSUMER AS WELL. THIS IS ONE OF MY PET PEEVES.

TED SIMONS: ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS, BUT BE VIGILANT. KEEP AN EYE OUT.

TED SIMONS: THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. TUESDAY ON ARIZONA HORIZON, IT'S A FULL SHOW WITH ONE OF OUR MOST POPULAR GUESTS, PHYSICIST LAWRENCE KRAUSS, WHO'LL HAVE THE LATEST SCIENCE NEWS, INCLUDING THE DISCOVERY OF A SUPER-MASSIVE BLACK HOLE THAT DEVELOPED IN THE EARLY UNIVERSE. THAT'S TUESDAY ON ARIZONA HORIZON. THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING. ¶ ¶

Mark Brnovich: Arizona Attorney General

President Biden for the 2024 State of the Union address.
airs March 7

State of the Union

Stewart Udall: The Politics of Beauty

A cute little duckling with text reading: Arizona PBS Ducks in a Row Event
March 6

Getting Your Ducks in a Row to Avoid Conflict When You Are Gone

A cactus blooms in the Sonoran Desert
aired Feb. 28

Desert Dreams: Celebrating Five Seasons in the Sonoran Desert

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: