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Officials recommend shopping safety tips

November 24, 2018

HUNTINGTON - The holiday shopping season is underway, and as shoppers head out in droves to busy stores, shopping centers and the internet to find the perfect gifts, so do pickpockets and scammers.

The West Virginia State Police recommended shoppers first and foremost take their time and be considerate of other shoppers.

“People need to try to be patient and take their time, not get overexhausted by trying to do their shopping all in one day, and put their health and the health of everyone else first,” said Kelly Beckett, administrative supervisor at the State Police’s Huntington detachment.

According to a news release from West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, shoppers should be wary of potential in-person and online scams. Morrisey recommends consumers limit their use of debit cards, pay close attention to holiday credit card offers and be aware of fraudulent websites or coupons that resemble the real thing. Credit cards offer more protection for fraudulent charges than debit cards, which are treated as cash.

In-store shoppers should leave Social Security cards and other nonessential information at home, lock presents away in the trunk of their vehicle, watch for card-skimming devices on ATMs and credit card machines, and use an RFID-blocking sleeve or wallet to protect credit and debit cards from electronic pickpockets. Electronic thieves have the ability to use devices to scan credit card information without stealing purses or wallets, and the RFID-blocking technology prevents that.

The State Police advised no cases of the RFID-scanning pickpockets have come up in the Huntington area, but shoppers should still be on the lookout for these types of crimes.

Online shoppers should watch for spelling mistakes, low-quality images and ensure URL addresses legitimately match the known retailer’s website, which could identify fraudulent websites or illegitimate coupon offers made to steal money and personal information. The Attorney General’s Office recommends relying upon secure payment systems, avoiding money transfers to unknown people and ensuring payment websites start with https://, as the “s” indicates a secure page.

Shoppers should also be wary of holiday credit card offers and read the fine print closely to determine the parameters of those zero-percent interest deals.

With busy shopping centers also come crowded parking lots and garages. AAA issued a parking lot survival guide that outlines extra precautions for navigating crowded parking lots. AAA recommends driving slowly, keeping headlights on even during the day, backing into parking spaces and keeping toward the outer areas to avoid potential crashes.

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