Consumer Hub: Buy Smart

Tips for Protecting Yourself Before You Buy

To avoid problems and make better decisions, use this checklist before you make a purchase:

  • Decide in advance exactly what you want and what you can afford.

  • Do your research. Ask family, friends, and others you trust for advice based on their experience. Gather information about the seller and the item or service you are purchasing.

  • Review product test results and other information from consumer experts.

  • Get advice and price quotes from several sellers.

  • Check out a company’s complaint record with your local consumer affairs office and Better Business Bureau.

  • Get a written copy of guarantees and warranties.

  • Get the seller’s refund, return, and cancellation policies.

  • Ask whom to contact if you have a question or problem.

  • Read and understand any contract or legal document you are asked to sign. make sure there are no blank spaces. Insist that any extras you are promised be put in writing.

  • Consider paying by credit card. If you have a problem, you can dispute a charge made on your credit card.

  • Don’t buy on impulse or under pressure. This includes donating to charity.


Source: 2011 Consumer Action Handbook, GSA Federal Citizens Information Center