Shopping & Saving

"Free" Trial Offers?

Free trial programs often come with expensive catches. If you get an offer to try a product or service for "free," read the fine print. Know how to stop a company from billing you after the trial period ends if you decide you don't want the product or service.

About Consumer Contracts in Connecticut (CT)

Contracts are binding legal agreements.  Learn about your rights when you sign a contract for a health club, dating service, home repair, and other services.

Advertisements (Montgomery County, MD)

"Lowest Price of the Year", "Best Deal in Town!" Can you really believe the advertisements you see? Have you ever been frustrated because you went to the store to get the advertised item but they were out of the item? Advertisements should be viewed with an educated eye. Read more

Air Travel (GA)

With heightened security measures now the rule, there are certain trade-offs we make for the convenience of air travel.  Get information from the Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Protection on planning your flight to avoid delays and cancellations, purchasing your ticket, and more.

Buying a Puppy (WI)

Buying a new puppy can be an exciting and happy experience. But too often it turns into an unpleasant and expensive experience. Currently, puppy purchases in Wisconsin are not covered by a “lemon law” such as what protects automobile buyers. It's important for consumers to educate themselves before making their purchase.

Buying Exercise Equipment

Before you spring for new exercise equipment, make sure you’re not buying the fitness fiction of quick, easy results. When shopping, look for equipment that suits your lifestyle and budget, and shop around to get the best price. Read more.

Buying Jewelry

When you’re in the market for a piece of jewelry, compare quality, price, and service from several different retailers. Consider asking family members, friends, or co-workers for recommendations. If you’re unfamiliar with a seller do an online search to check its reputation. Read more

Canceling a Contract (GA)

Only certain types of contracts can be canceled within three business days after signing. The three-day cancellation, or "cooling off," period gives you time to think about your decision and check the price and quality of other products. Read more.

Career Consulting Firms (GA)

When you're looking for a job you may think about working with a career consulting company. Be cautious about the ads for these companies, and never pay for services before you get a job.  Read more about steps to take before hiring a company.

Checking the Reliability or Reputation of a Business (GA)

How do you know whether the company you are considering doing business with is reliable and trustworthy?  If you have doubts, check before you write that check! Get tips from the Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Protection.

Consumer Action Handbook

The Consumer Action Handbook  is one of the federal government's most informative and popular resources. Information in the guide empowers consumers to make smart decisions and get assistance with problems and questions. The guide is  available in Spanish as Guía del Consumidor.

Consumer Guide to Beauty Salons and Spas (NY)

Learn how to be sure a salon or spa is following safe practices.

Consumer Tips from the BBB

Read BBB expert advice about buying and selling and being a savvy consumer. BBB Consumer Tips provide real-time news about hot marketplace topics, from choosing the right auto insurance to picking the right wedding photographer.

Consumer.gov

Information for people of different literacy levels and those who want practical, concise information. Read about credit, debt, identity theft, avoiding scams, budgeting, and managing money. This free material is available in English and Spanish.

Daily Deal Savvy (WI)

By subscribing to emails or text alerts from popular daily deal websites, many people have found great online offers. Unfortunately, some offers that look like giveaways don't turn out to be a great value. If you're thinking about buying a daily deal, there are steps to take to make sure you get what you expected.

Deceptive Advertising (WI)

Wisconsin's deceptive advertising law applies to ads aimed at Wisconsin consumers.  It forbids statements that are “untrue, deceptive or misleading,” in written ads in newspapers, magazines, and promotional brochures, and in radio and TV commercials.

Deceptive Local Phone Directory Listings (GA)

Georgia wants to crack down on businesses who disguise their out-of-state location by publishing a local number in a phone directory.  Read more about what to do if this happens to you.

Don’t Believe All You Hear about Living Trusts (WI)

A living trust can be a valuable financial planning tool for some people, but some marketers use misleading or exaggerated claims. Read more.

Door-to-Door Food Plans (WI)

While some door-to-door food companies provide a valuable service to their customers, a number of them have misled consumers and may sell food at two or three times the price found in local stores. The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection shares this information about door-to-door meat salespeople and home food service plans.

Door-to-Door Sales (GA)

Have you been pressured into buying something from a door-to-door salesperson that you wouldn't usually buy, or paid a price you might not have paid if you had a chance to comparison-shop? Federal law governs sales that take place in your home.  Read about your rights.

Extended Warranties & Service Contracts

When you buy a car, electronic device, or major appliance, you may be offered an “extended warranty” or "service contract" that provides repair or maintenance for a certain time. The extra coverage may not be worth the extra cost. Read more

Fair and Trade Show Exhibitors – Not Always What They Seem (WI)

Many exhibitors at trade shows, fairs, or home improvement seminars are professional and reputable, but some vendors may be looking for potential victims to scam. Read more about what to watch for.

Fair Credit Billing

Have you ever been billed for merchandise you returned or never received? Has your credit card company ever charged you twice for the same item, or failed to give you credit for a payment? These errors can be corrected with patience and knowledge of dispute settlement procedures of the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA).

For Kid's Sake -- Selecting Safe Toys for Children (CT)

Every toy isn’t suitable for every child.  Buy, use, and store toys with care.

Generic Drugs and Low-Cost Prescriptions

Buying generic drugs can be a way to save money. If you want to get generics when possible, ask your doctor to write a prescription allowing a generic drug product when it’s appropriate. Learn more

Getting a Refund When a Company Goes Bankrupt (WI)

You want to get your money back for a product or service that didn't satisfy you, but the company has gone bankrupt. What can you do?

Gift Cards: OCC Tips for Consumers

Read or listen to a message about the terms and conditions related to gift cards.

Going Green

Want to make choices that are good for the environment and your wallet, when you shop? Learn how to question green advertising claims, shop for products that use less energy, and save gas without wasting your money.

Going-Out-of-Business Sales (GA)

Have you ever seen a retail establishment that advertises it's “going out of business,” but somehow manages to hang on and stay in business?  It may be violating Georgia law, which prohibits conducting a going-out-of-business sale for longer than 90 days.

Guide to Contests and Promotions (WI)

Learn which promotions, contests, sweepstakes, and other similar activities are legal in Wisconsin.

Guide to Entertainment Ratings (WI)

Media ratings systems are one source of information help protect children from violence in movies, games, and music. Get details about the ratings

How Buying Plans Work

Before you sign up for a buying plan, research the company, look for other people’s experiences, compare prices with those of other retailers, and read the terms of the offer. Read more.

How the Direct Marketing Rule Helps You (WI)

Wisconsin's direct marketing rule protects consumers in telephone, e-mail, fax, mail, and door-to-door transactions, including sales made in motel and hotel rooms and other places away from the seller’s place of business.

Is It a Wise Buy for the Environment? (WI)

Many of us look for products that produce less waste or are less harmful to the environment. Wisconsin’s environmental labeling law helps you get clear and reliable information.

Keep Your Child Safe: Product Safety Tips

Stay informed about product recalls by checking the Consumer Protection recall alerts page from the New York State Department of State.

Legal Advertisements (GA)

Georgia law prohibits the intentional false advertisement of legal services.  Legal ads must not contain statements that are fraudulent, deceptive, untrue or misleading. Read more.

Limousine Companies (Montgomery County, MD)

Hiring a limo for a special occasion? Heard stories from friends saying the limo didn't arrive, or came late, or wasn't the type of limo they ordered? Selecting a reputable limo company is critical to ensure your special occasion isn't ruined.

Money Wiring Scams

Watch a video about some common money wiring scams and learn how to avoid these scams.

Moving and Storage Companies (Montgomery County, MD)

The success of your move within Maryland or the Washington, D.C. area depends on how well you prepare. There are federal regulations for interstate moves (from state to state or outside a Metropolitan area) but few laws that specifically address intrastate moving (within a state). In this situation, take special care to protect yourself.

Mystery Charges on Your Phone Bill

Cramming happens when a company adds a charge to your phone bill for a service you didn’t order, agree to, or use. Cramming charges can be small, say $2 or $3, and easy to overlook. But even when the phony charges aren’t small, they may sound like fees you do owe. That makes them tough to pick out, especially if your phone bill varies month to month. What can you do?

Online Auctions (WI)

Thinking of bidding in an online auction, or selling some of your stuff? Internet auctions are a great resource for shoppers and sellers, but you need to watch out for some pitfalls. Find out how.

Overseas Shipping Companies (Montgomery County, MD)

There is a lot at stake when you ship overseas; the money you will spend, the memories you are taking, and your treasured possessions. While most shipping goes smoothly, accidents do happen and some items may be lost or damaged during shipment. Read more.

Price Scanning and the "Get One Free" Law (CT)

Connecticut law offers relief to people who think they were charged incorrectly for a purchase.

Privacy When You Shop

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) publishes in-depth guides on how to protect your privacy when you shop. Learn what information you should give to merchants, how to shop online safely, the differences among payment methods, and more.

Private Internet Sales (WI)

A simple amount of research can give you a good idea if the online product or the seller is suspicious. Read more

Prize Offers (WI)

Some scam prize offers and sweepstakes use fancy certificates, official entry numbers, or envelopes that look like telegrams to trick people into thinking they're legitimate. Despite the fancy package, these offers will cost you money. Read more.

Product Safety is for Everyone (CT)

Parents, families, and caregivers of young children are most effective in protecting children from unsafe toys and household dangers.

Protect Yourself from Fraud When You’re Buying Online

When you see an offer online, how can you be sure that the deal is real and not a rip-off? Read Consumer Federation of America’s tips and watch the funny video to learn how to protect yourself when you’re buying online.

Rebates

Rebate offers can be irresistible, reducing a product's price and promising a partial or full reimbursement after you buy. The Federal Trade Commission cautions consumers against being "baited" by rebates that arrive much later than promised, or not at all.

Rent-to-Own (WI)

Are you thinking of buying a new TV, refrigerator, stereo or other “big-ticket” item? You may be considering the rent-to-own choice. Rent-to-own ads are very inviting with low weekly or monthly payments, no credit checks and no down payments. Weurge consumers to first call the company to see what kind of terms are offered, then compare those terms to other options. Read more

Repair Shops (WI)

In Wisconsin, there are no specific laws that regulate repair shops. To avoid problems, consumers should do some homework first.

Return and Refund Policies (WI)

It's important to understand a business’ policy before you pay a deposit or make a purchase. Ask for a written copy of the store's return policy. Read more.

Safe Toys Are No Accident (WI)

Play is essential to a child’s development, but poorly designed or improperly used toys can cause injury or even death. By following some basic guidelines, parents can better ensure that playtime is fun, educational, and safe.

Saving Money on Gas

Everybody wants to save money on gas, but for every car make and model, estimated gas mileage is just that — an estimate. Actual mileage depends on how you fuel, drive, and maintain your car. The Federal Trade Commission offers some bumper-to-bumper tips to help you get the most miles from your gas purchase.

Self-Service Storage (WI)

Do you need a place to store your things temporarily? A self-service storage facility may be the answer to your problems. Before renting, get these tips from the Wisconsin Bureau of Consumer Protection. 

Shopping for Funeral Services

Many funeral providers offer packages of goods and services for different kinds of funerals. When you arrange for a funeral, you have the right to buy goods and services separately. You don't have to buy a package that includes items you don't want. Here are some tips to help you shop for funeral services.

Shopping Green

When you shop, look for specific information or trusted certificates on packages and products that tell you what makes the item environmentally friendly.

Shopping Green

When you shop, look for specific information or trusted certificates on packages and products that tell you what makes the item environmentally friendly.

Shopping Online

For hassle-free online shopping, get the details about what you're buying, pay by credit card, keep records, and protect your personal and financial information.

Shopping Tips

There are plenty of ads from merchants who want your business. They use preferred customer specials, early bird sales, midnight madness events, coupon savings days, and holiday sales. How do you decide if a deal is real? The Federal Trade Commission has some tips to help you get the most for your money.

Storing Your Boats, RVs, Motorcycles, Furniture and Other Property (WI)

When storing your property, including boats, pontoons, RVs, and motorcycles, protection from theft or damage should be your primary concern. Read more.

Surplus Goods & Government Sales (WI)

Many businesses contact consumers and claim they have information about buying surplus government goods.  They'll charge you a fee for the information, but government agencies share this information for free. Read about legitimate federal and state sales of surplus goods. 

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Tax Refunds That Really Aren’t (WI)

Unfortunately, many of these fast “refunds” are actually loans called “refund anticipation loans” (RALs). When you get a RAL, you’re actually borrowing your own money, money that you will get as a tax refund. Read more.

Telemarketing Scams

Every year, thousands of people lose money to telemarketing scams. Telephone scammers will say anything to cheat people out of their money. There are ways to hang up on these scammers before they get the best of you and your money.

The Language of Recycling

Learn how to know whether a product or package is recyclable or made of recycled materials.

The Language of Recycling

Learn how to know whether a product or package is recyclable or made of recycled materials.

Ticket Refund Law (WI)

What happens when you purchase tickets to a theater performance, sporting event, or concert months in advance, only to later have the event canceled or rescheduled? Under Wisconsin law, consumers are protected from losing most prepaid admissions fees. Read more

Timeshare Resale Fraud (FL)

The Florida Attorney General’s Office protects timeshare owners by investigating the business practices of telemarketing companies that market their advertising services to timeshare owners who want to sell or rent their timeshare interests. Read more

Timeshares & Vacation Plans

If you're thinking about paying for a timeshare or vacation plan, the Federal Trade Commission says it’s a good idea to do some homework. You could end up having a hard time selling your timeshare. Read more

Tips for a Successful Interstate Move (WI)

Before moving your goods, movers must give you a pamphlet called "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move." It provides basic information to help you understand the documents the mover will ask you to sign. Read more.

Toy Ads on Television (WI)

Toys advertised on television can be an important part of a child’s “wish list” for birthdays or holidays. And television advertisements are an important source of information about toys. Help your children evaluate toy advertisements by talking about the topics featured in this resource.

Travel Agencies (Montgomery County, MD)

While most travel agencies are reputable and guide consumers honestly and competently, some consumers pay for tickets they never receive. The Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection suggests you carefully research a travel agency or merchant before you pay for services.

Travel Scams

Scammers never seem to take a vacation. Here’s what you need to know to avoid a travel scam.

Travel Tips

Whether you want to take a cruise, stay at a resort, or join a travel club, it pays to be an informed traveler Before you choose, read a company’s cancellation and refund policies, and consider whether you want travel cancellation insurance.

Understanding Rainchecks (CT)

You can use a raincheck to get the advertised price on sale items.

Understanding Wisconsin's Price Comparison Advertising Rule

Price comparison advertising is an important feature of today's competitive marketplace. Wisconsin's Price Comparison Advertising Rule is designed to prevent misleading price comparison, including comparisons based on arbitrary or inflated values. 

Unwanted Junk Mail, Calls, Emails, Texts (WI)

You can opt out of recieving some unwanted mail, calls, and texts. Read more.

 

Using Layaway Plans

If you don’t want to pay with plastic and you don’t have the necessary cash on hand, you may want to ask a merchant about a layaway plan. It’s important to ask questions about how particular layaway plans work. Doing a little research on the front end can help you avoid problems later.

Using Layaway Plans

Layaway purchase plans are for people who want to buy products and services without using credit or paying the full price immediately. The Federal Trade Commission says it’s important to ask questions about how a specific layaway plan works. Do a little research on the front end to help avoid problems later. Read more

Using Money Transfer Services

Scam artists use many schemes to get your money; many involve transferring money through companies like Western Union and MoneyGram. According to the Federal Trade Commission, money transfers may be useful to send funds to someone you know and trust, but they’re completely inappropriate when you’re dealing with a stranger. Read more

What You Should Know About Your Retirement Plan

This booklet helps you understand your plan and explains what information you should review periodically and where to go for help with questions.

Wisconsin’s Bedding Labeling Law

Wisconsin is one of about 30 states with some type of bedding labeling law, which requires proper labeling of bedding-related products in order to distinguish between remanufactured bedding made of secondhand material and bedding products manufactured of new material. Read more

Working with Professional Fundraisers (WI)

If your organization is considering working with a professional fundraiser, you have an obligation and a responsibility to the public to account for all funds collected and to ensure the fundraising is conducted in an honest, straightforward, and legal manner. Read more

Your General Telemarketing Rights

How can you tell the difference between a legitimate telemarketing call and a scam? It's not always easy, but new resources from the Consumer Federation of America can help. Check out the tips, video and guide to understanding your basic telemarketing rights.