Attorney General Mike DeWine
DeWine Offers 10 New
Year’s Consumer Protection Tips
(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today offered
consumer protection tips ahead of the New Year.
“Our mission is to protect Ohio’s families,” Attorney General DeWine
said. “We want to help consumers avoid scams, identity theft, and other
problems. We encourage people to take steps to protect themselves and
to contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office if they need help.”
Attorney General DeWine’s New Year’s consumer protection tips include:
Beware of scams. Scams are prevalent, and they take many different
forms. Some of the most common signs of a scam are pressure to act
immediately and requests for payment in gift cards or wire transfers,
which are difficult to recover once sent. Also, online, some links and
attachments are designed to infect your device with malicious software.
Be careful where you click, and don’t open any questionable links or
attachments, even if they come from a friend.
Check return policies for unwanted gifts. If you plan to return any
gifts, check the return policy carefully to ensure you’re following the
right procedure. Keep in mind that some sellers’ return policies may be
extended during the holidays, but others may not be.
Understand your rights when joining a gym. Under Ohio law, consumers
generally have three business days to cancel a contract with a fitness
center, and the contracts generally shouldn’t last longer than three
Don’t wait to use gift cards. The longer you wait to use a gift card,
the more likely it is to be lost or stolen. Plus, while most gift cards
generally must last at least five years, certain promotional, bonus, or
free-with-purchase cards are not subject to the same rules and may
expire sooner. Also, if a business closes before you use a gift card,
it will be difficult to redeem any unused balance.
Research new companies. If you’re thinking about working with a new
business in the upcoming year, research the company first. Check for
any complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or
Better Business Bureau and conduct a basic internet search of company’s
name and owner. Be wary if you find mostly negative information or no
information at all. (Some bad operators change names regularly to hide
their pattern of problems.)
Update passwords and settings. Make sure you’re using a complex, unique
password for each account you use. Check your privacy settings,
including on social media, to ensure you’re sharing only what you want
with the people you want. Most websites contain privacy settings that
you can adjust to make your account more or less private.
Review bank accounts. Following holiday purchases, review your credit
card charges and bank account statements. Compare them to your
receipts. If you find unauthorized charges, immediately contact your
bank or creditor to dispute the charges.
Check your credit report to help keep track of your credit history and
spot signs of potential identity theft. You’re entitled to one free
credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting
agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. To access your free
reports, visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com. You can pull all three at
once or stagger them throughout the year.
Consider freezing your child’s credit record. Under a new state law
passed in 2016, parents and guardians now can freeze their child’s
credit record to make it harder for an identity thief to open
unauthorized accounts in the child’s name. Adults also can freeze their
own credit reports for similar protections.
Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Whether
it’s a notice saying you've won a lottery you never entered, an online
ad for a product priced well below market value, or a visit from a home
improvement contractor who offers immediate work at a very low cost, be
wary of any offer that seems too good to be true. It probably is.
If you suspect a scam or unfair business practice, report it to the
Ohio Attorney General’s Office by calling 800-282-0515 or visiting