Whether you enjoy racing from one store to the next in the wee hours of the morning on Black Friday, or surfing the Internet on Cyber Monday, the extended Thanksgiving weekend can be a great time to find bargains on gifts for friends and family.
However, several potential dangers may be lurking around the corner.
We’ve compiled the following safety guidelines to help protect you from becoming the victim of theft this holiday season.
When Shopping in Stores…
Keep Purchased Gifts Out of Sight
As you sprint from one store to the next, the last thing you want to worry about is returning to a broken-into car. Don’t leave purchased items in the backseat. Instead, store them away in the trunk and keep them covered.
Park Your Car in a Well-Lit Area
Most Black Friday sales take place before the sun comes up, so park in a well-lit area to reduce the risk of being robbed while walking to and from your car.
Shop With a Buddy
Not only is shopping with a friend more fun, but it is also safer than shopping by yourself. Criminals are less likely to target a group of shoppers than one who is shopping alone.
Don’t give pickpockets easy access to your belongings. Women should keep their purses close to them, and men should keep wallets and cellphones in front pant pockets or inside coats and jackets, instead of back pant pockets.
Make a Plan in Case Your Group Gets Separated
With the chaos of the crowds that partake in Black Friday shopping, there is a chance your group may get separated. As soon as you reach your destination, agree on an easy-to-find meeting place in case a member of your group gets separated. This is especially important when shopping with children.
When Online Shopping…
Update Security Software
Before you begin your Cyber Monday shopping spree, make sure the security software, operating system, programs and apps on your computer, smartphone and tablet are all up-to-date.
Use a Safe, Secure Network
Browsing the sales during your break at that local coffee shop? Select a secure Wi-Fi hotspot that requires a password for access when making online purchases.
If this is not an option, use the direct Internet access on your smartphone. While not as convenient, this is much safer than using an unsecured network.
Choose a Safe Payment Method
Credit cards are generally a safe form of payment for online purchases because they allow you to request a credit from the seller if your product isn’t delivered. Several retail sites also offer the option to use PayPal, which is a secure payment platform, and allows you to easily track your transactions.
Shop with Trusted, Secure Companies
Shop with companies you know and trust. If you are considering purchasing an item from an unfamiliar company, do some research prior to making your purchase. A secure website will include a URL address that begins with “https,” indicating that your purchase is protected through encryption technology.
If It Sounds Too Good to be True, It Probably Is
Be careful of links in emails, tweets and online posts that offer “too good to be true” deals. Many cybercriminals use these links as bait to compromise your computer… and your personal information. If a post or link seems suspicious, ignore or delete it. Refuse the temptation to click on it.
For more tips on how prevent holiday-related identity theft, click here.