CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is reminding consumers to use caution and protect their personal information as the holiday shopping season begins with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
“The holiday shopping season can be very busy and, at times, exhilarating,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “As consumer activity picks up, we urge consumers to be vigilant, aware of potential scams and protect their personally identifiable information as they purchase gifts for loved ones.”
In a press release issued by the Attorney General’s Office, Morrisey recommended that consumers limit their use of debit cards, pay close attention to holiday credit card offers and be aware of fraudulent websites or coupons that resemble the real thing.
Credit cards, whether they are used of online or in-store shopping, provide the best protection to dispute charges when goods or services do not arrive as promised, according to the release. In contrast, debit cards are no different than cash and come with no special protection, the release stated.
The release stated that holiday credit card offers require a close reading on the contract. According to the release, deferred interest promotions may promise zero-percent interest through December 2020, but failure to pay off the entire balance by the promotion period’s end could stick the consumer with an interest charge dating back to the item’s original purchase date.
In the release, the Attorney General’s office also recommended that online shoppers should watch out for spelling mistakes, low-quality images and ensure that URL addresses legitimately match the known retailer’s website. These tips will help consumers identify fraudulent websites or illegitimate coupon offers that were hastily created to steal money and personal information, according to the release.
Additionally, the release stated that consumers should rely on 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.
The Attorney General’s Office stated that anyone who feels as though they have been scammed while shopping should call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online here.