NASHVILLE –Big events draw crowds – and unscrupulous scammers looking to cash in at others’ expense. The August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse is no exception. As thousands of consumers make plans to view the eclipse at parties and other gatherings across the Volunteer State, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s (TDCI) Division of Consumer Affairs reminds Tennesseans to check the authenticity of the merchandise they purchase to watch the eclipse, including viewing glasses and handheld solar viewers.
TDCI shares the following consumer tips regarding the purchase of eclipse merchandise:
- Before ordering online, always do your research before entering any personal or payment information. Search for reviews, check that phone numbers and addresses are legitimate, and be sure it’s a secure website. Look for the padlock symbol or https:/ at the beginning of the web address.
- If you plan to attend a viewing party, ask if merchandise will be offered at the event.
- If you’re planning to order the glasses yourself, it’s important to ensure that the ones you choose are manufactured according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) guidelines. NASA has noted that the following manufacturers have certified their glasses meet ISO 12312-2 international standards: Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only), Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17.
- The glasses should have the manufacturer’s name and address printed on the product.
- If you place an order online but never receive it, attempt to reach out to the business first and if the issue can’t be resolved, notify your bank or credit card company and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftccomplaintassistance.gov or by phone at (877) 382-4357.
- Consider paying with credit card when making online purchases. Credit card companies provide more fraud protection than any other payment method.
TDCI urges Tennesseans to follow these NASA guidelines to safely view the solar eclipse:
- Do not use homemade filters or substitute with ordinary sunglasses — not even very dark ones — because they are not safe for looking directly at the sun.
- Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter. Always supervise children using solar filters.
- Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun.
- After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
- Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device. Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury. Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device.
- If you are within the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to glance at the remaining partial phases.
For more consumer tips and resources, visit the TDCI Division of Consumer Affairs at http://www.tn.gov/consumer.