County of Bergen & Passaic
The Department of Law & Public Safety
Bergen County Consumer Affairs
Office of Consumer Protection
East 220 Ridgewood Avenue
Paramus, NJ 07652
Phone: (201) 336-6400
Fax: (201) 336-6416
Bergen County Consumer Affairs Tip-Line: http://www.bergenfraud.com
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
What you should know about:
*Gift Cards & Gift Certificates
*Mail Order, Delivery of Household Furniture & Refund Policy Disclosure
*Credit Card Skimming
Gift Cards and Gift Certificates:
New Jersey has a Gift Card Act that covers not only gift cards but also gift certificates. The law adds consumer protections and is intended to end commercial practices that use hidden expiration dates to reduce the value of the gift card or gift certificates.
New Jersey’s Gift Card Act:
*The Gift Card Act focuses on retailers and does not apply to bank-issued cards that have a predetermined amount on the card which is usable at a merchant or an ATM.
*The expiration date and the dormancy fee, if any, must be disclose.
*No gift card or gift certificate can expire for 24 months after its purchase. A retailer may impose a “dormancy fee” not to exceed $2.00 per month, after 24 months. A dormancy fee cannot be imposed within 24 months following the date of sale or within 24 months immediately following the most recent activity in which the gift card or gift certificate was used.
(Note: Under Federal rules for gift cards money on a gift card cannot expire for at least five years from the date the card was purchased or from the last day additional money was placed on the card. If the expiration date on the card is earlier than these dates, the money can be transferred to a replacement card at no cost.)
*A gift card’s packaging or sales receipt must include a telephone number to call for information about the expiration date or dormancy fees.
Consumers can protect themselves by taking these actions:
*Read the fine print when purchasing gift cards or gift certificates.
*Not all gift cards or gift certificates can be used to buy merchandise online, so be sure to ask.
*Being a smart and savvy consumer is always the best protection of all, so it pays to know the law.
Mail Order, Delivery of Household Furniture & Refund Policy Disclosures:
You are protected by the Consumer Fraud Act, whether ordering merchandise by mail order, having furniture delivered or buying merchandise in a store.
If you purchase merchandise by mail order, the law says you must receive your order within six (6) weeks or less. If the business is not able to send you the merchandise you ordered, the business is required to send you a notice advising you of the delay and then they must substitute merchandise of equal or superior quality for the merchandise you ordered or offer to send you a full refund.
Delivery of Household Furniture:
Household furniture includes, but is not limited to, furniture, major electrical appliances and items such as carpets and drapes. When you purchase household furniture and sign a contract or sales order to have your furniture delivered, the contact form must contain the following sentence in bold type:
“The merchandise you have ordered is promised for delivery to you on or before_____” and the blank space must be filled in with the date agreed upon by both the buyer and the seller. The retailer is required to deliver your furniture by or on the mutually agreed upon delivery date or give you a written notice explaining why the furniture cannot be delivered on the promised date.
The written notice must give you the option to cancel your order and receive a full refund or accept delivery of the furniture at a later date. Examples may include but are not limited to:
*If the store only delivers a portion of your order on the agreed upon delivery date.
*If the items are damaged when they are delivered or are not, the exact size, style or color you ordered.
Disclosure of Store Refund:
Every retail establishment in New Jersey is required to disclose its refund policy. The disclosure must be on a sign that is either:
*Attached to the merchandise itself.
*Easily viewed by the consumer while standing at the cash register
*Affixed to each cash register at the point of sale.
*Posted at each store entrance used by consumers.
The disclosure must tell you that you have the option of either a cash refund, credit card credit or store credit, provided the merchandise you are returning has not been used or damaged and if there are any other terms or conditions which must be met in order for you to receive a refund.
The disclosure must tell you that you have the option of either a cash refund, credit card credit or store credit, provided the merchandise you are returning has not been used or damaged. It also must inform you if there are any other terms or conditions which must be met in order for you to receive a refund.
Credit Card Skimming:
An electronic credit card reader or ‘skimmer’ is a device that was designed for legitimate use with cash registers and/or credit card machine. The skimmer gathers information encoded in the magnetic stripe on the back of your card including your name, address, telephone number, card number, credit limit and PIN number. When used illegitimately, the process is called ‘skimming’ and is one of the fastest growing ploys used by criminals.
How does it work? During the skimming process your card is swiped a second time, using a small hand-held device which captures your information so it can be downloaded later for illegal purposes such as unauthorized purchases or selling it to a third party.
Although banks and credit card companies will generally absorb the losses generated by skimming, they usually offset these costs by increasing your interest rates and fees. Be aware of the potential for this type of fraud.
*Try to keep an eye on your credit card at all times, if possible.
*Keep your receipts.
*Review your account statements carefully and notify your bank immediately about any discrepancies you discover.
Disclaimer: This information was taken from the Department of Law & Public Safety Bergen County Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection’s Know Your Rights pamphlet. For information on the office, please call or email the above numbers.