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Attorney General urges caution

The Preston County Journal of Kingwood, West Virginia

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Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is urging consumers to be careful when using mobile devices to pay for merchandise and services this holiday season.

"The ability to pay for items with a mobile device is incredibly convenient, but it's important not to let the ease of the transaction take your focus away from keeping your personal information safe," Attorney General Morrisey said.

Nearly every smartphone offers consumers and sellers an opportunity to make and receive payments. These payments can be made through mobile apps, or through devices which can be plugged into the phone which will scan a person's credit card. Additionally, some smartphones come equipped with Near Field Communication technology, which allows it to beam information to other devices.

There are a few ways to keep your information safe:

Make sure to passcode protect your phone. Requiring a four-digit code or a passphrase on your phone can prevent a person from accessing apps where sensitive data is stored.

Only download apps which have access to your credit or debit card information from trusted sources, like Apple's App Store or Google Play.

If your phone uses an NFC connection to make payments, disable the option when it's not in use.

Only use a mobile payment option which allows you to receive an electronic receipt instantly which shows you what amount was charged to your card.

As always, regularly monitor your accounts, especially through the busy shopping seasons. The holiday rush can be a prime time for people to steal identities and cash from unsuspecting consumers.

"As technology continues to grow and change, scammers find new, creative ways to separate hard-working consumers from their money," Attorney General Morrisey said. "Even though paying for items through your phone can save you time, don't allow it to cost you additional money. Be vigilant with your device, and your accounts." Recently, the National Consumer League reported an up-tick in consumers who have had their information compromised through mobile banking, even if the consumer paid through traditional means, such as a personal check.

Several mobile banking apps have the ability to allow a person to deposit checks electronically simply by sending a photo of the front and back of the check. Scammers are taking additional photos of the checks, storing the account details, and using them to empty the bank accounts of their victims.

"If you don't feel comfortable paying for an item electronically, don't. See if there's another way to purchase," Morrisey said.

If you suspect you have been the victim of identity theft, call the Office's Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808 or visit to report it. Additionally, consumers can report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at

Copyright 2014 The Preston County Journal, Kingwood, West Virginia. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: December 3, 2014

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