Holiday shopping safety tips offered

The holiday season can be distracting, with lots of glittering lights, holiday decorations and crowds of people. Make sure you pay attention to what is happening at all times. You don’t want to turn a happy holiday season into

  • Stay alert and aware of what is going on around you.
  • Deter pickpockets.  Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
  • Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies when taking mass transit: report any unattended packages to security or staff.
  • ALWAYS leave yourself extra time. By giving yourself extra time, you’ll be able to remind yourself of these basic shopping safety tips.
  • If you see anything suspicious, call 911.

Vehicle safety

  • Park in a well lighted area and be sure to lock your car doors.
  • Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
  • NEVER leave doors unlocked or windows open.
  • Hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk so they aren’t visible to those passing by your car.

Be smart about your  purchases

  • Avoid carrying cash if at all possible. Use credit cards instead. This makes you less vulnerable to thieves, and many cards offer increased warranties, and other protections for your purchases.
  • Double check that you have your credit cards and wallet after you pay for your items.
  • Check receipts to see whether your full credit card number appears. If a receipt has your full number on it, take a pen and thoroughly scratch it out.
  • Save all receipts.  Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases.   Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.

Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Don’t put your purse down, and carry your purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put your wallet in an inside pocket or in a front pants pocket. This will deter pickpockets and purse snatchers.

Shopping with children

  • If you are shopping with your children, talk to them ahead of time about what to do if they get lost in the crowd. Have a central meeting place or teach them to go immediately to a store clerk or a security guard and ask for help.
  • If they are old enough, make sure they know your home phone number, your cell phone number and that your name is not just “Mommy” or “Daddy”.
  • Ensure that any children with you know your cell phone number. Give cards with contact information to any who don’t.

Shopping Online

  • Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Everyone’s computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed.
  • Keep your personal information private and your passwords secure. Do not respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses will not contact you in this manner.
  • Beware of “bargains” from companies with whom you are unfamiliar—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address.
  • Shop with companies you know and trust.

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