Holiday Shopping Safety

As we enter one of the busiest shopping times of the year, it’s important to take steps to keep safe while shopping. Being aware of your surroundings while shopping in person and considering your safety online can prevent you from becoming a victim this holiday season. These shopping safety tips from Pasco Sheriff’s Office can help keep you and your purchases safe this season.

When heading out to shop in person, staying vigilant of what’s going on around you can keep you and your items safe. Consider where you park by choosing a well-lit and highly visible spot. Remove your personal belongings when exiting your car and store any large packages out of sight in the trunk. Always lock your car doors, close windows and set an alarm, if possible. Be attentive when walking or driving in parking lots for everyone’s safety. Shop with a buddy; thieves are less likely to target people in groups. When shopping with children, designate a place for them to meet you, such as a customer service counter, in the event you get separated, and make sure children know to ask a security guard or store employee for help.

Although gift cards offer flexibility, they also create ideal opportunities for scammers. Buy gift cards directly from the retailer and save the receipt. Carefully inspect gift cards and their packaging prior to purchase for signs of tampering. If a gift card appears damaged, notify a store representative and ask for a new card. Never buy gift cards from an auction or community website. Resale sites are often an outlet for stolen, fraudulent or already used gift cards.

Although online shopping is convenient, always think before you click too quickly to protect your personal information. Only use secure Wi-Fi networks for online purchases, as public Wi-Fi is usually unencrypted and therefore, much less secure for your personal information. Verify you’re shopping on a secure and legitimate website; secure websites start with https://. Beware of phishing attacks. Don’t click on pop-ups or open suspicious advertising emails. Using secure accounts with creative passwords can protect your account from hackers. Using credit cards for online purchases can offer enhanced fraud protection compared to other forms of payment; avoid using debit cards for online purchases.

Crimes of opportunity, such as package theft, often increase during this busy shopping season. If you know you will be away for a delivery, have packages delivered to a safe location such as an office, a package room or to a trusted neighbor who is home during the day. If it’s available from a retailer, elect for free in-store delivery, order pick-up lockers or curbside pick-up for extra security that works with your schedule. If a package is stolen, notify the retailer and delivery company, and file a report with law enforcement.

As sales start appearing, don’t let your valuables vanish. Taking extra precautions this holiday season goes a long way in ensuring that you, your loved ones and your property stay safe. Check out PSO’s social media pages for the latest updates and safety information.

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