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Shopping safely this holiday season

Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales (left) and Executive Vice President of the Retail Council of New York Ted Potrikus (right) gave shoppers a brief rundown of safe shopping practices for the holiday season, including prevention of identity theft, toy safety and product recalls, budgeting tips and more.

Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales (left) and Executive Vice President of the Retail Council of New York Ted Potrikus (right) gave shoppers a brief rundown of safe shopping practices for the holiday season, including prevention of identity theft, toy safety and product recalls, budgeting tips and more. Submitted Photo

— Shoppers at Colonie Center on Wednesday, Nov. 30, got a crash course on safe and smart holiday shopping from Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales and Executive Vice President of the Retail Council of New York Ted Potrikus.

“Given today’s tough economic climate, many families are operating on tight budgets. That’s why it’s so important to be properly armed with information that will help make your holiday shopping less stressful and more rewarding,” said Perales.

The brief presentation, held in a central area on the first floor of the mall, laid out shoppers’ rights in the marketplace by explaining rules regarding gift cards, refunds and layaway policies. Representatives from the Division of Consumer Protection offered tips for navigating the fine print of advertisements, how to successfully shop online and shared the latest information on toy safety and recalls.

“We want to make sure that consumers are properly informed about toy and other product recalls to help reduce the risk of injury,” said Perales.

Some tips for holiday shopping include creating a shopping list and determining a budget before heading to the stores, look at store advertisements before going out, consider a layaway plan, bring advertised prices from competitor retailers and ask about price matching, get the details on extended warranties, about gift cards and return policies before purchasing and more.

Information about everything presented and distributed is available online at www.dos.ny.gov.

The Division of Consumer Protection, previously known as the Consumer Protection Board, merged with the department of state in March and exists to “inform, educate and protect” New Yorkers in the marketplace, as well as serve as a “voice for the consumers,” according to Chris Valens, assistant public information officer for the department of state.

The Division of Consumer Protection conducts outreach and education to reach consumers by holding presentations and distributing printed and electronic materials. Shoppers had several brochures available to them at the Wednesday event, including a toy safety inventory checklist to help organize and catalogue the products in their own homes, help choosing and responsibly using credit cards, things to keep in mind when doing holiday shopping and a guide to identity theft.

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