CHARLESTON — With the holiday shopping season upon us, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is urging shoppers to be wary of scammers when searching for deals online.

“It is critical for consumers to know how to protect themselves from online scams,” Morrisey said in a press release.

The AG's office says analysts believe increases in holiday sales numbers comes with the ease of push-button purchases as more and more consumers rely upon computers, smartphones and tablets to help fill Santa’s sleigh.

“As purchasing options become more abundant, so do the potential threats to consumers’ personal identifiable information,” Morrisey said. “Following simple precautions like avoiding unsecure wireless internet connections and suspicious e-mail links can save consumers a lot of time and money.”

The Attorney General’s Office suggests the following tips to safeguard personal information:

* Consider using one-time or multi-use credit cards rather than debit cards.

* Watch for spelling mistakes or low-quality images, which may indicate a hastily created website

* Ensure URL addresses legitimately match the known retailer’s website.

* Use payment verification systems.

* Avoid money transfers to unknown people, instead rely upon secure payment systems such as PayPal.

* Make sure the payment page starts with https:// as the “s” indicates a secure page.

The Attorney General’s Office also reminds consumers of Federal Trade Commission shipping requirements, which mandate companies deliver merchandise within the time frame promised. It further requires companies to notify consumers when a shipment cannot be delivered on time.

If no time frame is promised, the FTC requires companies to ship products within 30 days of when the order is received. Notifications of a late delivery should be accompanied with the choice of a refund or new deliver date. Any refund request must be processed within seven days.

Consumers who feel as though they have been scammed while shopping online are asked to call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division toll free at 800-368-8808.

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Office of West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey
1900 Kanawha Blvd E
Charleston, WV - 25305

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