DES MOINES — Iowans are warned to be extra cautious before buying anything online or even in-person on this Black Friday.
Consumer protection expert Michael Domke says if you’re shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, you need to read the ads carefully and be aware of each particular merchant’s guidelines on returns, among other things. “There are laws that require certain disclaimers in advertisements and those are typically buried in that fine print,” Domke says, “and in that fine print is where you’re going to find the duration of the sale, whether there’s any terms and conditions, and return policies.”
Online scammers will certainly be out in force on this big shopping day, looking to get your money by offering fake ads for popular items. “They’re advertising either an item that is typically out of stock,” he says, “a really hot item for the season, and it’s a fictitious website.”
Domke says you should be very careful when clicking on coupons or other deals in your phone’s text messages or in social media feeds. “They try to lure more information out of you,” Domke says. “It may be the situation where once you click on it, the malware is going to suddenly infect the device that you’re using and give them access to your personal or banking information.”
It’s buyer beware once you’ve left established websites or stores, he says, as fake items can also being listed on places like Amazon, eBay or Walmart. Take a look at the seller and check reviews before putting down any cash. As always, if a deal seems too good to be true, double-check that link before you double-click.