The holidays are a wonderful time, but criminals often take advantage of harried shoppers. Here are some tips to help you stay safe when shopping this holiday season.
Just the rest of the year, be aware of you surroundings. Shop with a friend, if possible. And try to shop in daylight hours. Also try to avoid the malls during the busiest times. Weekdays are less crowded than evenings or weekends.
Don’t be distracted by your cell phone or a great sale. Pickpockets love the holiday rush. Make sure you can manage all your packages. Put your wallet in your front pants pocket and/or carry your purse close to your body. Try not to use the hook in the restroom stall or set your purse down anywhere while you shop.
Don’t carry much cash. Remember, credit cards can be cancelled if stolen, but be wary of carbon copies of credit slips. Carry only one or two cards at a time and use your credit card company’s online service to keep daily track of purchases. Make sure all the charges on your bill are legitimate. Keep a list of your cards and numbers at home in case you are robbed. If you must use cash, don’t put it all in one place. Put some in your purse, some in your front pockets, etc. That way, if you are a victim of a pickpocket, he won’t clean you out in one shot. Be careful to conceal the keypad if inputting the PIN for your debit card.
Remember where you parked. Park in a well-lighted area, lock your car door, and stow packages in the trunk, out of sight. When walking in a parking lot, keep your keys in hand. Walk with confidence. Don’t’ dawdle. When approaching your vehicle, be wary of vehicles parked next to it, especially vans. If there’s a van parked on the driver’s side, approach and enter your vehicle on the passenger side. Check under and around the vehicle. Before getting inside, check the interior. Lock the door when inside. If you feel uncomfortable, return to the store or mall. If there’s a security guard available, ask for an escort to your car.
Happy holidays and stay safe!