You know the holiday shopping season is upon us when surplus Halloween candy is on sale, and there’s too much leftover turkey in the fridge. Unfortunately, while most of us are thinking about pumpkin pie and Black Friday bargains, thieves are scheming to take advantage of unlocked cars, unattended houses, and debit/credit numbers flying around the Internet.
Thieves seek targets that are quick and easy to hit. However, by following a few common sense tips, you can make your car, home and self look like a less appealing target.
When shopping in public places, consider:
•Shop during daylight hours, or park in well-lit, high-traffic areas.
•Leave personal valuables at home. If you must leave valuables in your car while shopping, hide them out of sight—in the trunk or stowed under a seat.
•Always lock your car, and close the windows and sunroof.
•Dress casually, and avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
•Avoid carrying large amounts of cash, and pay for purchases with checks or credit cards when possible.
•Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. Con artists try various methods of distracting you, while their partners find ways to part you from your valuables.
•Keep a record of all credit card numbers in a safe place at home so that you can contact your credit card provider immediately if a card is lost or stolen.
Your home is another vulnerable spot. Whether making a three-hour trip to the mall or going out-of-state to visit Grandma and Grandpa, don’t let the holiday rush make you careless. Your primary goal is to make your house appear occupied.
While away from home:
•Have a neighbor watch your house and pick up mail.
•Keep lights on automatic timers, and keep curtains closed.
•Leave a radio or television on, so the house sounds occupied.
•Don’t leave holiday gifts or household valuables visible through windows.
•Don’t brag to friends on Facebook or other social media websites that you are out of town.
Finally, when shopping online, continue to apply common sense security:
•Shop secure websites only—those that have visible SSL certificates.
•Shop sites you are familiar with, such as the website of your favorite retail store, or a site frequented by people you know.
•Before visiting new websites, read shopper reviews about the sites.
•Use credit, not debit—especially if your credit card offers buyer protection. The vulnerability of a debit card is that it provides a direct line into your bank account. If a scammer gains access to your debit card number and password, he or she can quickly empty your bank account. By contrast, potential loss via credit card loss is limited by card protection
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