Holiday Shopping and Safety Tips

Holiday Shopping and Safety Tips
Posted on 12/20/2021

During the holiday season, it's important to stay vigilant when it comes to shopping and online safety. Below are helpful tips to help keep you safe. 
 
Shopping Online Safety from Ready.gov/cybersecurity 

  • Limit the personal information you share online. Change privacy settings and do not use location features.
  • Be cautious online. During the holidays, scammers may send fake emails that are too good to be true. Don't click on suspicious email links! 
  • Protect your home and/or business using a secure Internet connection and Wi-Fi network, and change passwords regularly.
  • Create strong passwords by using upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. Use a password manager and two methods of verification.
  • Be cautious about sharing personal financial information, such as your bank account number, social security number, or credit card number. Only share personal information on secure sites that begin with https://. Do not use sites with invalid certificates. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that creates a more secure connection.

 
Preventing Porch Pirates: Tips from the Better Business Bureau 

Check With Your Neighbors
Sometimes, your package may not be stolen at all, just simply at the wrong address. Before filing a report or contacting the sender, check with your neighbors and see if the delivery service may have dropped off your package at the wrong address. Many delivery companies will take pictures of your package in the designated location – be sure to check for the photo and verify it is at the right spot.

Don’t Leave Packages Unattended 
When possible, do not leave delivered packages unattended for long periods. If you are expecting a package, attempt to schedule its delivery when you know you will be home. Ask your neighbors if they would mind holding on to packages delivered if you plan to be gone for an extended time during the holidays.

Ship to store or Work Address
If purchasing an item from a retailer that has a physical location near your home, consider shipping it there instead. Retailers will require proof of purchase or identification before releasing packages they have received, and this is a sure way to avoid porch pirates. You may also choose to ship orders to your workplace instead of your home. 

Use A Security Camera
Installing a home security system with cameras or simply a camera-enabled doorbell is a great way to deter package theft, especially when highly visible. Consider including a sign that specifically states that the residence is under surveillance. Even if a package is stolen from your porch, the video evidence will help law enforcement track down the thieves.

Require a signature
Many delivery companies include the option to require a signature before leaving a package, letting you take physical possession of the item as soon as it is delivered. While this option works well for those who are often at home, especially for expensive items, it may create difficulties in receiving packages if your schedule and the delivery service are different. Be sure to check with the delivery company on their policy for packages that are not signed for; they may return it to the sender after a certain number of attempts.

Consider a Package Receiving Service
Some major retailers, such as Amazon, offer secure package receiving locations or "lockers" away from your home that you can access with a key or code. Some independent businesses also specialize in this service, allowing you to designate a different delivery location for your packages and the ability to pick them up on your way home.

Shopping in Stores Safety Reminders from the National Crime Prevention Council 

  • Do not buy more than you can carry.  Plan ahead by taking a friend with you or asking a store employee to help you carry your packages to the car.
  • Save all receipts.  Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases.   Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.
  • Don’t flash the cash. Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as one-time or multiuse disposable credit cards or money orders, including at online stores.
  • Wait until asked by a cashier before taking out your credit card or checkbook.  An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.

Walking to and From Your Car

  • Be informed about your surroundings. Stay alert. Having a cell phone conversation or looking at your cell phone is distracting. 
  • Deter pickpockets. Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front pocket.
    Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
  • Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package.  The same applies if you are using mass transit.
  • Do not leave packages visible in your car. Lock them in the trunk, or if possible, take them directly home. 
     

Shopping With Small Children

  • If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you are separated from each other.
    Select a central meeting place.
  • Teach them to know they can ask mall personnel or store security employees if they need help.
  • Have them memorize or keep your cell phone number handy.
  • Keep up-to-date photos and accurate descriptions of each child electronically. Should they go missing, this information can be sent quickly to law enforcement when every moment counts.