Thanksgiving has come and gone and that means everyone can officially begin their Christmas preparations. While this means it is time for a whole lot of decorating, it also means it is time to get the final bits of Christmas shopping done.
While this should be a fun and happy time, there are unfortunately people out there looking to take advantage of holiday shoppers. Anyone looking to do a bit of shopping this holiday season needs to be careful in order to avoid becoming a victim of a crime so close to Christmas.
Shopping Safety Tips
While most people love this time of year for all sorts of reason from the weather to getting to spend time with family, thieves have different reasons for enjoying the holiday rush. They love the crowded stores and malls because that provides them with plenty of targets and enough chaos to cover their tracks. That is in addition to the shorter days which provide a lot of darkness for them to lurk in. In order to become a more difficult target and avoid being robbed or attacked while shopping, try following these tips.
- Always lock doors and roll up windows on cars before going into stores.
- Avoid talking to strangers. Some con-artists work in groups, one distracts the target while the other strikes.
- Be aware of surroundings as walking to cars. Thieves like to hide behind larger vehicles, or even under your car.
- Don’t carry too many bags at once, as this makes a person vulnerable.
- Don’t dress in fancy or attention grabbing clothes while shopping. This can grab a thief’s attention and attract them to you.
- Have your keys in your hands and ready to unlock your car before leaving the store. This way there is no fumbling to pull them out at the car itself, which makes a person vulnerable.
- Hide any presents or other expensive items in the trunk so that lurking thieves cannot see them in the car.
- If you don’t feel comfortable walking to your car, especially at night, ask a security guard or other store employee for an escort.
- Park in safe areas, preferably under street lights to increase visibility at night. Also try parking close to the storefront to reduce the amount of time spent walking to a car. Avoid parking next to large trucks and vans.
- Stay alert to what is going on around you.
- When shopping in the evening or night, always bring a companion with you. There is safety in numbers.
- Women should not carry purses with them, as these are easier targets for pickpockets. Try to stick to carrying only a single credit/debit card while shopping. This way, no cash can be stolen and only one card has to be canceled if taken.
Online Shopping Safety Tips
With advances in technology, online shopping has become a very large part of the holiday experience. Since online shopping has become so huge, crooks have begun to take advantage of it. In order to avoid falling victim to these people, follow these tips:
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi in general, but never use it when shopping or banking online.
- Before filling out private information on an online form, investigate the company/website to ensure that it is trustworthy.
- If you have fallen victim to an online scam, be sure to close the associated credit card immediately.
- Learn to spot and avoid email and social media scams, which become more prominent this time of year.
- Never give out social security numbers online. No online store will ever need that information.
- Never click on links from unknown sources.
- Only go to trusted websites by entering the address in the address bar. Avoid clicking links because scammers love to make fake links that lead to their own sites.
- Only shop on trusted websites, preferably with “https” in front of the address. The “s” signifies that the website is secure, thus making it more trustworthy. Most modern browsers now display a padlock symbol in the address bar next to secure sites.
Don’t Fall Victim to Crooks
As Christmas draws nearer, more and more people go shopping for gifts for their loved ones. Unfortunately, there are thousands of crooks and other horrible people out there looking to take advantage of holiday shoppers.