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Black Friday Security Tips

By Randy Alderman

The day after Thanksgiving is more than just a day to digest a huge feast. It is also the first official day of the holiday shopping season known as “Black Friday.” Black Friday is associated with bargains, early store hours and Christmas shopping. Many savvy shoppers and bargain-hunters look forward to the thrill of shopping on Black Friday. Unfortunately, thieves also anticipate this busy season as they look to turn unaware shoppers into Black Friday victims. The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) provides these safety tips for Black Friday -- and this year's holiday shopping.

Shopping in Stores

  • 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 onetime 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.
  • Shop local whenever possible. Yes, crime does happen in our happy little towns, but at much smaller levels and usually not some organized crime ring.

Walking to and From Your Car

  • Be informed about your surroundings. Use the free mobile app available from AlertIDâ„¢ to receive alerts about registered sex offenders living and working in the vicinity of your shopping venue.
  • Deter pickpockets.  Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser 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.

Shopping Online

  • Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Everyone’s computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed.
  • Keep your personal information private and your password secure. Do not respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses will not contact you in this manner.
  • Beware of “bargains” from companies with whom you are unfamiliar — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address.
  • Shop with companies you know and trust. Check for background information if you plan to buy from a new or unfamiliar company.
  • To avoid purchasing counterfeit products, carefully examine the products you want to buy for signs of missing information (manufacturing information, warranty, product codes, etc.), broken or missing safety seals, different or incomplete packaging, and subtle or obvious changes to a company logo.
  • Review your banking statement online and report any unusual transactions ASAP.

Your best bet is to shop local when possible. Happy shopping.

 

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