'tis The Season To Give Holiday Discounts

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© Provided by Charleston-Huntington WSAZ-TV The FBI sent out a warning Monday reminding shoppers to be aware of increasingly aggressive and unorthodox scams designed by criminals to steal money and personal information. tis The Season To Give Holiday Discounts

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Whether you are shopping online for gifts or using your debit card in stores beware because a Grinch could be out to steal your wish list.

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The FBI sent out a warning Monday reminding shoppers to be aware of increasingly aggressive and unorthodox scams designed by criminals to steal money and personal information.

In the last two years people living in West Virginia lost nearly $2.1 million due to a variety of scams, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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The number of victims reporting losses so far this year has more than doubled from last year.

The FBI says to steer clear of unfamiliar sites offering unrealistic discounts on brand-name merchandise.

Scammers frequently prey on Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargain hunters by advertising “One-Day Only” promotions from recognized brands. Without a skeptical eye, consumers may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information and receive nothing in return except a compromised identity.

Be cautious of sellers and websites that demand payment solely through gift cards. Scammers sometimes encourage shoppers to conduct wire transfers, allowing criminals to quickly receive illicit funds. Credit cards provide several layers of security against fraud and are typically the safest way to conduct online shopping.

Steps to avoid holiday fraud schemes:

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  • Before shopping online, secure all financial accounts with strong passwords or passphrases. Additionally, the FBI recommends using different passwords for each financial account.
  • Check bank and credit card statements routinely, including after making online purchases and in the weeks following the holiday season.
  • Never give personal information— such as your date of birth, Social Security number, or billing addresses— to anyone you do not know.
  • Be wary of promotions and giveaways that request your personal information.
  • Prior to donating to any charity, verify that they have a valid Taxpayer Identification number by visiting their website or calling the charity directly.

West Virginia shoppers who suspect they’ve been victimized should immediately contact their financial institution, then call their local law enforcement agency.

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