Holiday Safety Tips
December 2, 2004
The holiday season can be one of the happiest times of the year, especially for the potential thieves and con artists who prey on distracted and unsuspecting shoppers.
With stores packed to the gills and purchases made over the Internet burning up cable modem lines across the country, it is the perfect opportunity for no-gooders to steal some of the holiday cheer from the festivities. However, there are ways to keep yourself safer.
– You’re distracted, the stores are crowded, but it’s important to force yourself to be aware of your surroundings.
– If possible, keep your personal belongings, (e.g. your wallet or money) in an inside pocket so that pickpockets won’t have easy access. You may want to leave that bulky purse at home, too.
– Don’t keep a wad of cash in one spot. Distribute your money among several pockets so if you get robbed, you’ll still have some cash on hand.
– Where possible, use your debit or credit card in place of cash. If these cards become misplaced or stolen, you can easily report it to your credit card company. It’s a lot easier to replace a card than your entire holiday savings.
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– Stay alert around ATM machines. Thieves know people take out larger-than-normal amounts of money during the holiday season and are ready to pounce.
– Head out to stores early. This way, you’ll get your shopping done during daylight hours.
– Avoid dark, empty parking lots. If you feel unsafe, have a store security guard walk you to your car, no matter how foolish you think you may look. Your safety is more important.
– Put gifts in the trunk or underneath seats. Thieves can easily break a window to snatch your holiday treasure trove if it’s teasing them from the back seat.
– Only purchase gifts from reputable sites. Large department store Web sites and recognizable businesses are usually safe. You don’t want to be left without gifts because a bogus business stole your cash.
– Look for a secure connection when entering payment information. On most computers a padlock icon or the word “secure” will appear at the bottom of your screen when you reach a page that is secure. This makes it harder for hackers to steal your contact information and credit card number when you’re ordering.
– Consider using a separate credit card for all online purchases. This makes it easy to track your purchases and see if anyone has used your number illegally.
– Beware of phony delivery personnel. Unfortunately, there are people out there who pose as delivery people and service technicians. Look for a truck bearing a company insignia. The service person should have proper identification and documentation of your order.
– Holiday lights adorning the house add to the cheer of the festivities. However, when a normally lit house is dark because you are not home, it can make your home a target for burglars. Set holiday lights and inside lights on a timer so that your home appears occupied, even if it’s not. Rely on lights that don’t produce much heat, so you’ll have peace of mind concerning fires while you’re out.
– Keep your doors and windows locked — even when you’re home. Burglars know you potentially have gifts inside. Don’t make it easier for them to steal your stuff.
– If you’ll be traveling during the holidays, have a reliable neighbor take in your mail or turn on your holiday lights in your absence. This way, you won’t come home to a house ransacked by burglars after you’ve just enjoyed your holiday vacation.
By adhering these tips and using some common sense during the holidays, it is possible to keep holiday thieves at bay.