Attorney General Jason Miyares released a holiday shopping guide video on Friday to advise Virginians on how to protect themselves and their personal information when shopping for friends and family this holiday season.
“During the holiday season, Virginians are more likely to be donating to charities and shopping online for gifts. Scammers and bad actors know this, and try to take advantage of the stress and influx of shopping that comes this time of year,” Miyares said.
Miyares’ guide to shopping safe this holiday season:
Always pay with a safe, secure method. Avoid websites that require you to wire money, use gift cards, or cryptocurrency.
When shopping online, make sure it’s with a reputable website. Secure websites will begin with “https”.
Trust your gut. If a seller seems off, google it with the words “scam” or “complaint” to see if others have had negative experiences.
Only shop at websites or give to charities with names that you know and trust.
Be cautious of unsolicited requests, like phone calls, emails or text messages from unknown origins requesting donations.
Check if the charity and its fundraiser are registered with the Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs (OCRP) within the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services by calling 804-786-1343 or online.
Remember: While a legitimate charity should be registered with OCRP to solicit contributions in Virginia, registration alone does not mean that the organization will be effective in using your donation.
And never share personal or financial information to unknown contacts.
Virginians who are worried that they’ve been scammed can file complaints with the Virginia Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Section.
Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.