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A crowd of shoppers seeking bargains at Target in Cool Springs, Tenn., bought electronics, apparel and toys on Friday, Nov. 27, 2009.(AP Photo/The Tennessean, John Partipilo)

APolitical

How not to get scammed on Black Friday, Cyber Monday

Don’t get scammed on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is telling shoppers.

This week, he offered a series of tips “to help consumers avoid scams,” he said in a release.

For Black Friday:

— Some retailers may inflate prices ahead of Black Friday to create the illusion of a drastic price cut. Research the regular retail price of items to check how much you’ll actually save.

— Price matching policies may be suspended by some retailers between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

— Be wary of unexpected emails that claim to contain coupons with significant discounts and ask for personal information. Don’t click on any suspicious links. They may contain malware to compromise your identity.

— Read the fine print at the bottom of sales ads, as sales may be limited to certain time periods, brands or quantities.

For Cyber Monday:

— Avoid websites with odd or incorrect spellings of legitimate companies. Domain names that include hyphens are often red flags.

— Beware of bogus websites promising unbelievable deals. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

— Be wary of “delivery failure” or “order confirmation” emails for items you did not order. These may be used to gain a consumer’s personal information.

— Use a credit card for online orders. It is easier to dispute (and mediate) fraudulent charges with a credit card than a debit card.

— Use strong passwords for credit cards and bank accounts.

For more help, call the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ consumer protection and information hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).

For other consumer protection information and resources, go to FloridaConsumerHelp.com.

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