Utah Department of Commerce urges consumers to be W.I.S.E. this holiday season

Cautious consumer habits can help catch scams before they become destructive 

The holiday season is when many Utahns open their wallets to buy gifts and give generously to charitable causes. Unfortunately, it is also a popular time for scammers to capitalize on peoples’ goodwill. 

Research conducted by the Department of Commerce’s Division of Consumer Protection shows most Utahns believe they’re less likely to fall for a scam than others. However four out of 10 Utahns report they’ve been a victim of fraud in the last three years. To avoid scams and fraud, the Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) created an easy-to-remember checklist of smart habits. 

This year, be a W.I.S.E consumer:

  • W – Watch for red flags. Opportunities that seem too good to be true often are. Check user reviews to see what people are saying about the business.
  • I – Investigate and research. Use trusted consumer protection resources like the Better Business Bureau and/or our own DCP website to see if the business has had a history of problems.
  • S – Set boundaries. Determine how much you’re comfortable spending on a product or service and stick to your budget. Doing business with trusted retailers and websites might avoid trouble in the future.
  • E – Examine the fine print. Make sure you understand the terms of contracts. Know exactly what you’re paying for, exact price, length of terms, and how to back out or get a refund if necessary. You don’t have to sign anything of which you’re not sure.

W.I.S.E. buying

As the holidays quickly approach, It can be hard to pass up on a killer deal. But DCP reminds consumers to be on the lookout for scammers trying to take advantage of individuals wanting this year’s trendy gifts. Be cautious with online buying. Compare prices to make sure the advertised price is reasonable, read reviews, and keep track of purchases. 

W.I.S.E giving

DCP also wants to remind consumers about the importance of safe charitable giving. Asking questions about an organization, its purpose, and its finances can help consumers know more about an organization and to what their money might go. Trustworthy charities should be able to clearly identify their mission and goals, demonstrate what progress they’ve made toward them, and be transparent about their finances.

For more information about how to shop and donate safely, visit the Department of Commerce’s website or visit consumer.ftc.gov. Visit dcp.utah.gov to verify a charity’s registration or file a consumer complaint.