CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey urges consumers to exercise caution as Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday kickoff the holiday shopping season.
“It’s that time of year again when people flock to stores and surf the web to find that perfect gift for friends and family,” Morrisey said in a statement. “It’s also a popular time for thieves to take advantage of those not paying attention, so I urge everyone to be extra careful with their personal information.”
The Attorney General's office recommends that consumers pay close attention to holiday credit card offers, limit their use of debit cards and be aware of fraudulent websites that look like the real thing.
Consumers must carefully read contracts associated with deferred interest credit card promotions. These deals may promise zero-percent interest through December 2017, 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.
Still yet, the office suggests consumers use credit as opposed to debit. Credit cards offer broader protections to dispute charges when goods or service do not arrive as promised. Debit cards, in contrast, are no different than cash and come with no special protection.
Online shoppers also should watch for spelling mistakes, low-quality images and ensure URL addresses legitimately match the known retailer’s website. Those tips will help identify fraudulent websites hastily created to steal money and personal information.
Consumers should rely upon secure payment systems such as PayPal, avoid money transfers to unknown people and make sure any payment website starts with https:// as the “s” indicates a secure page.
The office asks that anyone who feels as though they have been scammed while shopping to call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division toll free at 800-368-8808 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.