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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Thanksgiving is about family and giving thanks to the blessings around us but it’s also the day before the largest shopping day of the year!

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So how can you avoid getting scammed or becoming a victim of identity theft?

“While sales abound on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers’ enthusiasm to save a buck could cost them in the end if their financial information is stolen,” stated Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “Consumers should visit to arm themselves with the knowledge they need to avoid scams this holiday season.”

Here are some tips to help safeguard yourself from fraud:

  • Comparison Shop: A “sale” price is not always the best price. Some companies may offer a sale price on an item only for a limited time, while other stores may discount the same item every day.
  • Beware of Recalls: Before shopping, find out which toys or products have been recalled. For more information on product recalls, visit
  • Know Your Rights: Recent changes to federal law prohibit gift card issuers from enforcing certain fees and expiration dates on gift cards.
  • Know Return Policies: Each retailer sets their own policies, so understand each policy before making a purchase, especially a large one.
  • Keep Good Records: Keep receipts for purchases, and ask for a gift receipt to include with gifts.
  • When in Doubt, Check Them Out: When shopping online through an unfamiliar merchant, verify the merchant’s authenticity.
  • Choose Credit Over Debit: Most credit cards have protection on them and are considered the safest method for online purchases.
  • Look for the Security Lock: Never purchase anything or reveal personal information online from a website that does not have secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption installed. Check by looking in the browser box for “https://” at the start of the website (the “s” denotes a secure website).
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The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, protection and information. The call center is staffed with trained analysts who can respond to questions about programs and regulations under the department’s purview, provide information on a wide variety of topics or direct callers to the appropriate government agency.

Consumers who believe fraud has taken place can contact the department’s consumer protection and information hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832). A live chat feature is available for those who would prefer to communicate via computer.

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit

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