The holiday season is a wonderful time of the year - but it is also a prime time for predators - so here are some great ideas suggested by crime prevention experts to enhance your holiday shopping security:
- Carry only the credit cards, cash, and/or checks you will need for your shopping. In general, it is best to avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Use credit cards or checks, if possible, to make purchases.
- If your credit card is stolen, misused, or lost, notify your credit card issuer at once. In fact, it's a good idea to keep a complete inventory of your credit cards at home (along with their 800 numbers) in case of these types of mishaps.
- If you need to use an ATM while shopping, remember to use one located inside a busy, well-lit location and withdraw only the amount of cash you actually need. Protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keypad from anyone who may be standing near you; do not give your PIN to anyone; and do not throw away your ATM receipt at the ATM location.
- If possible, do not carry a purse or wallet. They are the prime targets of "bad guys," even in crowded shopping areas. Carry cash in your front pocket. If you do carry a shoulder bag, it's best to carry in front of you. Do not flash your cash!
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
- Stay alert at all times. Even though there are a million things on your mind and you have dozens of things to do, be aware of your surroundings. Remember, the "predators" will be more likely to confront you if they think you are distracted.
- Avoid driving alone or at night. Travel on busy, well-lit roads. Keep your doors locked and windows closed while driving and after you exit your car. Park as close as you can to where you are shopping and remember where you have parked.
- Once you have made your purchases, it is a good plan to secure them in the trunk of your vehicle or cover them with a blanket. Never leave packages in plain sight. Don't create a temptation for criminals.