County of Los Angeles
Department of Consumer Affairs
These tips will help you avoid holiday shopping problems
and New Year’s budget blues.
- Prepare a holiday budget and stick to it. Paying with cash can help avoid overspending.
- If you choose to make purchases with a credit card, use just one. This makes it easier to keep track of your spending. Paying by credit card gives you legal protections if products are defective or you don’t receive what you ordered.
- Ask about refund policies before you buy. Some stores offer a full refund, while others offer only a store credit or no refund at all.
- Save receipts. You’ll need them for returns and exchanges.
- When buying sale items, check your receipt before leaving the cash register to be sure you were not charged the regular price.
- When buying on the Internet, check that the website is secure before entering your personal or financial information. Secure websites begin with "https://" rather than just "http://." They also display a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen. An unlocked padlock means the page is not secure.
- Gift Cards and Certificates. When buying a gift card, ask if it can be redeemed for cash. The store’s policy will determine if cash is given for the amount not spent or if the balance remains on the card to be spent later. Nearly all service fees on retailer gift cards and gift certificates are forbidden. In California, most gift certificates don’t expire no matter what the fine print says.
- Donating to charity. Many fraudulent charities use names that sound like the real charities. Don’t be fooled. Give to charities you know, like the American Red Cross and the United Way.
- Read a contract and understand it before you sign. Check the interest rate and the total cost of the item when interest is included. Ask yourself if the interest rate is reasonable and whether you can afford the purchase.
- Guard against identity theft. Do not give personal information over the telephone or on the Internet unless you initiate the contact. Do not write your address, phone number, Social Security, or Driver License numbers on credit card receipts. Before giving personal or financial information to a business, ask how it will be used and if it will remain confidential.
Contact us for more information or speak with one of our counselors at (800) 593-8222. If you live outside of Southern California, call us at (213) 974-1452.
For more information:
County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer Affairs
B-96 Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
500 W. Temple Street *
Los Angeles, CA 90012-2706
Telephone (800) 593-8222 (within LA County)
web site: dca.lacounty.gov