The last-minute holiday shopping season is upon us…
…and while the Holiday Season is a very special time of year, it is also a time when people are stressed, rushed and as a result become careless and vulnerable to holiday crimes.
Here are some useful tips to make your Holiday Season safer while shopping or doing your day to day activities that become a bit more stressful in this busy time.
- Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member
- Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car. Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.
- Park in a well-lighted area, avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells, or cars with tinted windows and park as close as you can to your destination.
- Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. This creates a temptation for thieves. If you must leave something in the car, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight.
- Be sure to locate your keys prior to going to your car.
- Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and parcels. Do not put them down or on top of the car in order to open the door.
- When approaching or leaving your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.
- Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area. Ask mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.
- Dress casual and comfortable and avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
- If possible, carry your cash and credit cards on your person instead of carrying a purse or wallet. Be sure to carry your ID as well and avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Purses and Wallets are prime targets for thieves in crowded situations.
- Keep a record of all your credit card numbers (recommended: photograph the front and back of each) and notify your credit card issuer immediately if your card is lost, stolen or misused.
- Avoid carrying more packages than you can easily handle to your car when leaving your shopping trip. If you have to make multiple trips to your vehicle to carefully store these packages in your trunk that is better than the distraction of handling multiple packages alone when unlocking your vehicle.
- Beware of any strangers approaching you. Con-artists thrive during the holiday season working together with methods of distracting you while taking your money or belongings.
- If you must use an ATM machine choose one indoors and preferably with a security guard nearby. If there is a line of people waiting to use the machine, offer them the opportunity to go before you so that no one is able to look over your shoulder while entering your personal information and if someone approaches be sure to shield your PIN number when entering it. Also, keep your ATM receipt on your person instead of disposing of it publicly.
Shopping with your children is an additional challenge and we recommend you leave small children at home with a loved one or trusted sitter. Here are some important tips for parents that are useful throughout the year but especially at this busy time:
- Teach children their full name, address and telephone number to give to police officers or mall security.
- Teach children to immediately inform you if a stranger is bothering them.
- Teach your child to stay close to you at all times while shopping and to go to a store clerk and ask for help if separated from you.
- Never allow children to make unaccompanied trips to the restroom, food court, or to the car.