Safe Shopping Over The Holidays

Holiday season shopping is more fun than at any other time of the year. Yes, it’s crowded but we also have more time to spend and, hopefully, enjoy it. We’ve published safe shopping tips before but because they’re still so relevant, here they are again:

  1. Avoid isolated, dark areas in malls or streets. Park your car in a well-lit area and check what’s going on around you before you get out of the vehicle. If you’re on foot, keep away from areas that seem unsafe and make sure you know where the security guards are.
  2. Know where you can find help. Most shopping precincts increase their security staff at this time of year. Check on what their uniforms look like and where they are in case you need them.
  3. Keep a close watch on kids. They’re so easily distracted by the glitz and glamour of the Christmas season that they could wander off unintentionally and be lost in the blink of an eye.
  4. Car jamming is a reality. So don’t walk away while pressing your remote control to lock your car. Rather wait a second after locking and check the door handle to make sure.
  5. Keep your handbag close, preferably in front of your body, and make sure it’s closed. Use a sling bag if possible, so your hands are free for keys when heading back to your car. If you don’t carry a handbag, keep your wallet in an inside pocket, definitely not in your trouser pocket. Be aware of people crowding too close to you as pick pockets need seconds to whip your purse out of your bag.
  6. Be aware of cell phone security. Make sure it’s fully charged before you go shopping. Don’t get distracted by messages and texting when walking back to your car or around the mall because it makes you an easy target. Be careful using Wi-Fi in public places because some hotspots don’t encrypt wireless data and this could lead to identity theft.
  7. Don’t carry too much cash. Rather use a debit or credit card, but make sure you hide your pin code entry with your free hand.
  8. Don’t fall for friendly strangers or scam artists. People like this bank on your innate default mode of politeness. I was once mugged by someone that approached me from one side asking for directions while his mate pinched my purse out of my handbag on my other side. Bogus charity fund raisers also multiply at this time of year, so check on their registration number before giving them anything.
  9. Take parcels back to the car regularly and put them in the boot. You’ll have less to worry about and be less of a target. Don’t leave anything visible inside the car as it might lead to a smash and grab.
  10. Be careful while online shopping. Stick to reputable websites with payment methods you can trust such as PayPal. Use your own computer and never use a shared one because your details can be easily accessed. Keep your anti-virus and anti-phishing software up to date to avoid fraud. Check on delivery dates and returns policies to avoid disappointment. Also check on the site’s reputation by going to consumer sites such as HelloPeter.

More holiday safety tips to check out

If you’re at your coastal holiday home, or are lucky enough to live there permanently, we have ideas for you on how to secure your home in our blog post Clever ideas for coastal homes.

And heres one on children’s safety: Keeping kids safe at home during the holidays.

Contributor: Lindy Barry

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