6 steps for holiday shopping safety

When shopping, always keep your money and purchases hidden from prospective thieves.

When shopping, always keep your money and purchases hidden from prospective thieves.

The holiday season is a joyous and busy time of year. Decking the halls, catching up with old friends and holiday shopping make this time of year especially hectic.

Though the season is generally jolly, there are those people who take advantage of the hectic nature of the holiday season, preying on busy holiday shoppers who may be understandably distracted as the season progresses. As a result, shoppers and holiday revelers should heed the following precautions to ensure this holiday season is as safe as it is festive.

1. Exercise caution at ATMs. Thousands of dollars change hands at stores and banks this time of year. Potential thieves know that ATMs make good places to target victims withdrawing funds for purchases. Shoppers should choose ATMs that are well lit and withdraw money only when banks are open. If that’s not possible, avoid using ATMs in remote locations or dark alcoves. Keep your eyes fixed on your surroundings and be aware of the people in your vicinity. Promptly pocket your money and do not openly display your cash.

2. Keep purchases out of view. When shopping, keep your purchases hidden from prospective thieves. Make frequent trips to your car when shopping and store merchandise in the trunk of your car or in a cargo area with a cover drawn. Once items have been brought home, keep them well out of sight, stored in closets or away from windows.

3. Only park in well-lit lots. Finding a parking space at a busy mall can be difficult, but be picky when choosing spots. Try to park in a well-lit area in a busy location and be aware of the surrounding vehicles. If you feel uncomfortable going back to your car, ask a security guard to escort you.

4. Shop in groups. Go to the store with a group of friends. There is safety in numbers and having more eyes to look out is to your advantage. Thieves are less likely to approach a group of people than a solitary person.

5. Carry minimal items. Always keep your hands free to ward off any people in the event of an attack. Bags and packages weighing you down make you an easy target.

6. Leave extra credit cards at home. Carry only what you need on a shopping excursion. Do not carry your entire wallet or extra credit cards. This only puts you at greater risk of identity theft or fraud should you lose your wallet.

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