Layaway

Know the payment terms.

Know the penalties.

Keep good records.

Online shopping

Know who you are dealing with. Confirm the online sellerís physical address and phone number before you buy.

Check the terms and conditions, including return policy, shipping costs and restocking fees.

Pay by credit or charge card for the best consumer protection and to reduce liability.

Use antivirus or anti-spyware software and a firewall; update them regularly.

General tips

Buy gift cards from sources you know and trust. Avoid buying gift cards from online auction sites because they could be fake.

Get a copy of the storeís return/refund policy.

Track your finances. Stick to a budget. Review bank statements for unauthorized purchases.

Source: South Carolina

Department of Consumer Affairs