Holiday Shopping Safety Tips
Getting ready to hit the stores on Black Friday? The day after Thanksgiving gives consumers a chance to get a head start on their holiday shopping with dramatic discounts that create some of the best prices of the year. Whether going to the store at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving or 9 a.m. on Black Friday, make sure to not become a crime victim. Before leaving home, remember that Black Friday is all about being smart with money, not just with how it’s spent, but how it’s protected. Check this list of essential tips for a safe and successful shopping trip.
Our holiday shopping season is here, bringing joy and excitement as we shop our family and friends. Here are some easy safety tips to follow to enhance your personal safety:
- There is safety in numbers. Bringing a friend or family member along enhances your security and situational awareness during this hectic time. Criminals are less likely to target more than one shopper.
- Be aware. Take an extra moment and look around you – if a situation or person appears uncomfortable – wait to exit or to return to your vehicle.
- More plastic – less cash. When possible, limit the amount of cash that you carry as you shop. Criminals are looking for cash.
- Take a photo of your credit cards. Place your cards out and take a photo or video of the front and back. Account numbers, card issuers, and contact numbers need to be readily available if they are lost or stolen. Consider an online service to keep this data for you.
- Guard your purse. Criminals target ladies’ purses first – knowing they contain your wallet, vehicle keys, cell phone and maybe even a licensed concealed handgun. Take extra precautions to safeguard the contents and always be aware of potential risks.
- Escort to your car. When leaving a business and returning to your car especially at night – look around you. If you get that sixth-sense that something or someone is a potential threat- alert the store or mall security – request an escort to your vehicle. Keep your keys in your hand and try not using your cell phone until you are safely in your vehicle. Use your vehicle panic button to alert others if you are threatened.
- See Something – Do Something. If you encounter a crisis situation in a public setting always remember to RUN-HIDE-FIGHT. Removing yourself from the threat is the smartest thing you can do. If you cannot run – hide from the threat in a safe place until help arrives. And as a last resort FIGHT to protect yourself using any method necessary to reduce your risk of injury.
- Conceal shopping bags and boxes left unattended in your vehicle. Visible merchandise will attract thieves. Nothing gets a thief going like a car full of shopping bags that are clearly visible. Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home.
- Make sure to park in well-lit areas of the parking lot or garage with your windows fully closed, doors locked and alarm activated.
- Instruct your children that, should they become lost in a store or at the mall, to seek out a uniformed security officer or police officer for assistance.
- Remain alert to your surroundings; be on the lookout for individuals behaving suspiciously.
- Be wary of strangers approaching you for any reason. Pick-pockets sometimes work in pairs, with one person distracting the target with a question or request, while an accomplice steals their wallet, purse or shopping bags.
- Cell phone reception can be spotty in some stores, large malls, and retail outlets, so set a specific time and place to meet up after scouring stores for bargains.
- Shopping with a single credit card is safer because it’s easier to cancel one card than several, if a wallet or purse gets lost or stolen.
- When shopping online, use secure connections and only shop at websites you trust.
- Confirm all purchases, online and in-store, and save all receipts. Receipts are needed to make exchanges, refunds, and to dispute an incorrect charge.
- Know your rights when it comes to refunds, cancellations, returns, layaways, bait and switch, and rainchecks.
- Report lost or stolen credit, debit, and ATM cards immediately. Acting fast limits liability for unauthorized charges.
- Know gift card rules. Gift cards are required to be valid for at least 7 years in Massachusetts and gift cards not clearly marked with both a date of issuance and a date of expiration are valid forever.
- Make sure to bring a bottle of water and a few light snacks. Spending hours wading through shoppers and stores can leave people exhausted and dehydrated.