Authorities offer holiday shopping tips

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - SLED, the Secret Service and the City of Columbia Police Department are offering shoppers holiday securty tips. They say counterfeiters take advantage of cashiers who are distracted by long lines and consumers who are busy with purchases and shopping lists. U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Michael Williams suggest to shoppers to check their money before walking away from registers or bank tellers.

Other tips from SLED, the Secret Service and the City of Columbia Police Department include:

  • Retailers and consumers also need to be mindful of criminals attempting to steal or use stolen credit cards, credit card numbers or store gift cards.
  • If a retailer or consumer suspects a bill is counterfeit, they should compare the bill to a note of the same series and denomination that is known to be genuine.  The note in question should display the proper watermark as well as the proper security thread that is consistent with that denomination.
  • Retailers should continue to actively compare credit card signatures with photo IDs, and consumers should carefully scrutinize card transactions and card statements to ensure their cards are not compromised.
  • To help avoid becoming a victim of identity fraud, the best advice is to never provide personal information over the phone or the Internet to anyone that contacts you via phishing scams.  No credit card company or bank will ever contact you to verify your information. 
  • It is important that consumers don't forget to use common sense while shopping never leave valuable items visible in your vehicle, if shopping after dark, park in a well lighted area, do not carry large amounts of cash and be extremely careful when using ATMs.

"Technology has forever changed the way we do business, making everyday financial transactions a prime target for fraud," said Michael Williams in a news release. "The Secret Service, in conjunction with the City of Columbia Police Department and SLED continues to successfully combat these crimes by adapting our investigative methodologies, and educating the public."

"We want this and every holiday season to be a safe experience for the citizens of Columbia and its visitors", says Interim Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott in a news release.

"In 2003, the U.S. Secret Service and SLED's Computer Crime Center combined resources to combat computer based threats to South Carolina financial institutions. This partnership has been the bedrock of our success," said Reggie Lloyd Director of SLED in a news release.

The following websites contain information about how to detect counterfeit notes:

For information on how to protect your identity and also obtain victim assistance, visit www.ftc.gov.

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