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Top 5 holiday shopping safety tips

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) wants to arm consumers with five top tips for avoiding scam artists while holiday shopping.

– Online shopping. Ensure devices used to shop online stay virus free with updated antivirus software and do not automatically connect to Wi-Fi hotspots. For additional online shopping tips click here.

– Watch out for phishing attempts. Scammers up their game during the holiday season, sending fake gift cards and posing as your favorite retailers and financial institutions. Never provide sensitive information via e-mail, text or to a cold caller. Also, do not click on links, download attachments or call phone numbers included in suspicious emails.

– Shopping in store. Keep purchases hidden in the trunk of the car so thieves trolling mall and store parking lots won’t take a second look.

– Hold mail service. Identity thieves travel through neighborhoods looking for outgoing and incoming checks, pre-approved credit card offers and more to steal from mailboxes. Consumers traveling this holiday should consider the USPS hold mail service (https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/).

– Sign up for CPSC email alerts. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission will alert consumers of recalled products. CPSC’s recall list frequently features children’s products, so sign up for notifications or check their website for updates regarding any gifts purchased for friends and family.

For more information on how to protect your personal information and pocketbook any time of year, visit www.consumer.sc.gov and click “Consumer Resources.”