CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office is warning consumers to be cautious of fake email alerts, especially as the frequency of online purchases increase during the fall and holiday shopping seasons.
Scammers often impersonate popular retailers with emails that attempt to steal personal information. Such reports are routinely brought to the attention of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, including as recently as this month.
These spoof emails may arrive in the form of an order confirmation, shipment status report or advertisement of an upcoming sale. The emails may also replicate the retailer’s logo and allude to its website, however in most every case clicking on an included link or attachment opens the consumer to fraud.
“Consumers must pay close attention to the emails they receive,” Morrisey said. “We all like getting good deals and saving extra money, however consumers must exercise caution so a scammer doesn’t take advantage of you.”
Consumers should take note of strange email addresses, including those with an attachment, and always verify any offer through the retailer’s legitimate website. Sometimes a fake email address will look very similar, but include an inaccurate domain to confuse the victim.
Additionally, consumers should never give personal information electronically or over the phone without verifying the identity of the recipient.
Website anomalies associated with the offer also should raise a red flag, such as anything pointing the consumer away from the retailer’s trusted website. Consumers must read the fine print for details about expiration, limits on use, etc.
Anyone with questions or fears they may be the victim of a scam should contact 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 http://www.wvago.gov.