CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey reminds consumers to use caution, shop wisely and protect their personal information as the holiday shopping season accelerates with Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
“Whether you choose to physically go to stores or shop online, always remember the holiday season also brings out seasonal scams,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Scammers take advantage of increased consumer activity during the holidays, and every transaction is an opportunity for a fraudster to steal your money or identity. Don’t let buying gifts result in personal information ending up in the wrong hands.”
Attorney General Morrisey suggests consumers limit their use of debit cards and be aware of fraudulent websites or coupons that resemble the real thing.
Credit cards, whether shopping online or in stores, provide the best protection to dispute charges when goods or services do not arrive as promised. Debit cards, in contrast, are no different than cash and come with no special protection.
In-store shoppers also should leave Social Security cards and other non-essential information at home, lock presents away in the trunk, watch for skimming devices and use an RFID blocking sleeve or wallet to protect credit/debit cards from electronic pickpockets.
Online shoppers should watch for spelling mistakes, low-quality images and ensure URL addresses legitimately match the known retailer’s website. These tips will help consumers identify fraudulent websites or illegitimate coupon offers hastily created to steal money and personal information.
Consumers should rely upon secure payment systems, avoid money transfers to unknown people and make sure any payment website starts with “https://” as the “s” indicates a secure page.
Anyone who suspects they may have been scammed while shopping should call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or visit the office online at www.ago.wv.gov.