AZ Attorney General issues warning about holiday shopping scams

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Holiday shoppers should be on the lookout for scammers. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Holiday shoppers should be on the lookout for scammers. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The holidays can be a magical time for families and friends but it can quickly turn sour if scammers get their way.

It's a busy time for them as crooks try to get shoppers to fall for shopping, travel and employment scams.

But it's not just thieves and people up to no go who try to take advantage of shoppers. Sometimes it's retailers and deceptive advertising.

"If I see an ad, I take it with me and that's what everyone should do because we want to make sure no one is engaged in bait and switch tactics where they're advertising something at some price and then you get to the store 15 minutes after it opens and the products not there," said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

He advises to slow down and use caution when buying gifts, booking travel and signing up for seasonal employment opportunities.

So-called "porch pirates" are also getting more aggressive during the holiday season, Brnovich said. He suggests to know the expected date and time of delivery and get to know your neighbors so they can be on the lookout for it if you're not there.

Some people also get fooled by the rules of gift cards. Federal law states service fees can no longer be charged until the card has been inactive for 12 months. But gift cards can expire at least five years from the date it was bought.

The Attorney General's Office also said to only shop at secured websites, which begin with "https" and display a small padlock icon next to the web page address. 

Restocking fees can also put a damper on holiday cheer so make sure you know the full cost and restocking fee policy before you buy.

Speaking of returns, save all those receipts and documents for warranties and service agreements.

"A lot of places make you have that receipt, you have to return it within a certain period of time, say 30 days and sometimes when you return stuff, you can only get a merchandise credit, you can't actually get your cash back," Brnovich said.

When shopping for kids, check that the toys are safe at the Consumer Product Safety Commission 's website and read the labels and fine print.

For those looking into travel deals, if it's too good to be true, it probably is, Brnovich said.

If you're looking for a seasonal job, be cautious when looking at online job boards because they may display job listings that don't exist so they cant just get your personal information.

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