Commentary

Watch closely for holiday shopping scams

Black Friday gets its name from retailers operating in profit (in the black) rather than loss in the red.

Shoppers are anxious to find bargains that downsize the gift list. Special offers, cut prices, and other enticements lure you to turn loose of your hard-earned money and make a purchase.

The crowded stores add to the spirit of getting the sales items before they are sold out. Some people complain "Black Friday" is a scam. Long lines develop prior to the doors opening and a mad rush spills into the aisles at the earliest opportunity.

Then in a blink of an eye the items in great demand are suddenly taken and the shelf is empty. The customer complains about the tactic used by merchants that state until the supply is sold out.

The purpose is to sell products and it is necessary to have shoppers eagerly buying. You must keep your eyes and ears open.

Maybe you want to avoid the crowded conditions and shop online. More and more people are doing just that. Shopping from the computer in the safety of your home can be risky too.

More people are shopping on-line this year than ever and it is also true that you increase your chances of falling victim to a con artist when making transactions in the store and on the computer.

If you shop on-line it is better for you to use only one credit card. If the number is stolen, then there is only one company to report the theft. Also, it is advised that you use a credit card rather than a debit card because unauthorized charges made to your credit card have better protection.

Another handy hint is to notice the search window for the initials http (hypertext transfer protocol). When you are making a purchase, or using what you believe is a safe site to do business, see if the initials have changed to https. The "s" stands for "secured."

Other complaints to store managers are based on the "bait and switch" tactic. The store advertises an item, then offers a substitute of less value in its place. This is more commonly used than you would think.

The "cash back" scam from cashiers at any business can steal your money.

The scam works like this. You make a purchase and you take the items to checkout. Bar codes are scanned, credit cards are swiped through the machine which complete the transaction.

Unknown to you a $40 cash back charge is placed on you card. Is it too late to get the problem resolved? How can you prove that the cashier did not give you that money charged on your receipt?

In many stores the cashier is on security camera and would be easily caught pocketing scammed money, so how are they getting by with this scam?

They have a partner in crime that so happens is in line right behind you. The partner is given the extra money and no one is the wiser.

Should the store be told about the attempt to charge you $40 for a cash back you were not given? Should you call the police?

This scena r io d id happen about a month ago. A shopper noticed the charge and requested it be corrected. The clerk offered the customer $40, which was refused.

The cashier said she could not correct the mistake. The supervisor told the customer he had to take the money.

The customer said he did not want to pay interest on advanced money and if the mistake could not be corrected, just delete the order completely and credit his account with the amount of purchase. This was done.

The second time a cash back of $20 appeared. The request to delete the cash back was granted and the amount was correct. The cashier said the electric pad was not working properly.

Did she know the pad was charging the customers and she was not offering to give them the money? Was the cashier keying in the amount to make more money this holiday season?

I would like to think all cashiers in Milam County are honest, hard working people. Hopefully this alert will not find this scam active in our county.

tedh@alpha1.net


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2009-12-03 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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