CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued a reminder to West Virginians to use caution, shop wisely and protect their personal information as the holiday shopping season kicks off with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
“Whether you choose to wait in line at a brick-and-mortar store or shop online from the comfort of your home, it’s important to beware of 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.”
A release from Attorney General Morrisey’s Office that was issued on Friday stated that it is recommended that consumers limit their use of debit cards and be aware of fraudulent websites or coupons that resemble the real thing.
The release stated that credit cards, whether they are used for shopping online or in-store, 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, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
The release stated that in-store shoppers should also leave Social Security cards and other non-essential information at home, lock presents away in the trunk of their vehicle, watch for skimming devices and use and RFID blocking sleeve or wallet to protect credit/debit cards from electronic pickpockets.
Online shopping is always popular and may see an even bigger surge this holiday season due to COVID-19, but it can also bring risks, the release stated.
The release detailed that online shoppers should watch out 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, according to Morrisey’s Office.
Lastly the release stated that consumors should rely upon secure payment systems and avoid money transfers to unknown people, as well as make sure any payment website starts with “https://” as the “s” indicates a secure page.
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 at www.wvago.gov.