Urging consumers to make smart online purchasing decisions

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey urges consumers to make smart online purchases and delivery arrangements when looking for the perfect holiday gift.

“There are many things that go into picking a gift for loved ones,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “That’s why it’s important to take all the necessary precautions to protect personal information and ensure the gift reaches its final destination.”

Consumers shopping online can do a few things to ensure their personal information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands:

Make sure websites start with https://, which verifies a secure connection.

Don’t wire money. It’s like cash — once it’s gone, it can’t be returned.

Avoid unfamiliar sites with unrealistic discounts.

Be wary of social media sites offering vouchers or gift cards as they could be a means to retrieve personal information.

Don’t use public Wi-Fi when entering credit card information for online purchases.

Frequently check credit and bank statements to catch any fraudulent purchases.

Some consumers may find it easier to use apps when shopping online and should take precautions to ensure the app is legitimate.

Scammers can create apps to lure consumers into purchasing a “great deal,” but the app is actually used to steal personal information from the consumer’s phone and infect it with malware. Read customer reviews and check for typos or run-on sentences in descriptions.

Most of those online buys will require shipping. Consumers should always require a signature to verify their receipt and have purchases delivered to work rather than sitting unattended at home. Both ideas will prevent a loved one’s gift from being stolen.

Shoppers also should be careful not to fall for the “parcel-waiting trick” in which consumers receive a card alleging a delivery attempt was made with a number to call for more detail. Once a consumer makes the call, they may be placed on hold and connected to a premium or overseas service that can prove costly and jeopardize personal information.

Anyone with questions regarding questionable online purchasing practices can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.

Earlier this week, the Attorney General urged consumers to carefully review holiday credit offers (http://eepurl.com/crUL0j) and exercise caution when giving to charities (http://eepurl.com/csfjiT).

Submitted by the office of W.Va. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

Submitted by the office of W.Va. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.