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Ahead of Sales Tax Holiday, Attorney General DeWine offers tips for consumers

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine this week offered consumer protection tips ahead of Ohio’s sales tax holiday, which runs this Fridaythrough Sunday.
“As people take advantage of the sales tax holiday and complete their back-to-school shopping, we want them to be prepared,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We’ve helped thousands of people resolve consumer complaints, and we know that many disputes are the result of a misunderstanding. We put an emphasis on prevention to help people avoid problems and make the most of their money.”
During the sales tax holiday, the following items are exempt from sales and use tax:
• Clothing priced at $75 per item or less;
• School supplies priced at $20 per item or less; and
• School instructional materials priced at $20 per item or less.
The Ohio Department of Taxation provides detailed information about the sales tax holiday on its website, including FAQs about what is and what is not exempt from sales tax during the holiday.
Tips for consumers include:
• Plan ahead. The sales tax holiday runs from Friday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017. Determine in advance the purchases you want to make, and review the Department of Taxation’s FAQs to understand what is and what is not exempt from sales and use tax during the sales tax holiday. Also research sellers’ reputations by reading customer reviews and checking for complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau.
•  Understand return policies before you buy. In Ohio, sellers can choose to set their own return policies, including policies of “no returns,” but they should clearly tell you what their return policy is before you check out or complete the transaction. For example, the return policy shouldn’t be posted only on the back of a receipt.
• Stay safe online. Research websites you plan to use, and make sure a website is secure before you enter any personal information or payment details. In the web address, look for the “s” in “https” and/or a lock symbol to help ensure a website has security features. Also consider paying with a credit card, which generally gives you stronger protections to dispute unauthorized charges.
• Check the exclusions and limitations of an offer. Exclusions and limitations must be clearly disclosed in advertisements, including online, so review terms and conditions carefully before you go to the store or make a purchase.
•  Keep your receipts. Maintaining a complete record of a sale will help you handle problems that may arise after the purchase. Keep receipts, copies of advertisements, photos of products, and other documentation until the transaction and billing process are complete.
• Monitor your accounts. Regularly check your credit card and bank accounts for unauthorized charges or unexpected activity. If you find problems, immediately notify your credit card provider or bank. The sooner you identify a problem, the sooner you can work to correct it.
•  Protect your personal information. Don’t carry around extra, unneeded credit cards, debit cards, or other sensitive information in your wallet or purse. Also limit giving out your personal information. Check privacy policies to see how sellers will use your information.
•  Watch for scams and identity theft. Con artists operate year round. If you receive a message saying you’ve won the lottery, the IRS is coming to arrest you, or a family member is out of the country and in need of money immediately, it’s likely a scam. Also, help watch for signs of potential identity theft by checking your credit report using www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

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