Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 30, 2013

Safety first: Beware of holiday scammers

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — The holiday season may be the most joyous part of the year, but it’s also a time for area residents to be extra cautious when it comes to scammers and thieves.

Area shoppers can take several easy steps to ensure they stay safe and have a happy holiday season, according to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. The simple tips suggested by Morrisey include:

• Shop with other people and make sure everyone is watching out for one another. Devise a plan for when and how you will find each other if you get separated.

• Avoid pickpockets by keeping your purse and/or wallet close to you at all times. Do not leave your purse in the shopping cart or open on your shoulder; carry your wallet in your front pocket or tuck it in a pocket inside your jacket.

• Do not remove credit cards, checkbooks or cash from your purse or wallet until it is time to make your actual purchase.

• Do not purchase more than you can carry by yourself. Stores will be busy and they may not have the personnel available to help you with large purchases.

• If you make purchases, make sure they are hidden securely inside your vehicle, and make sure the vehicle is always locked. This deters people from breaking into your car. If you can, take gifts home between shopping excursions.

• When you leave a store, have your car keys in your hands. When approaching your car, make sure you check around it, under it and in it before loading packages or getting in.

• Consider using one-time or multi-use credit cards, especially if shopping online.

• Shop online with companies you know and trust. Check a company’s background if you are unfamiliar with the business, including reading reviews of the seller posted by past customers.

• Keep all of your receipts and store them in a file folder at home. This makes it easier to return a gift if the size isn’t right or it doesn’t work. Keeping receipts also helps you remember what purchases you made when reviewing credit card statements.

  “Many great values may be found at stores later this week and throughout the holidays, but consumers need to be on guard against scams and thieves,” Morrisey says. “The majority of people you encounter during the holidays will be just like you — looking for the perfect gift for someone they love. But people looking to take your money or steal your gifts will be busy too.”

That’s why area residents should be mindful of potential scammers and thieves with bad intentions on their mind.

Shop. Have fun. But take extra steps to protect yourself and your property.