As much as the holidays might be the time of goodwill to men, it’s also the time for unscrupulous characters to become emboldened. Whether you are shopping online or are jaunting from store to store, gift bags tucked between your fingers, you’ll need to be on the lookout for those who are keeping a lookout on you.
In addition to being safe, there are tips and tricks to follow to help you get the best deal, regardless of where you’re shopping. The thrift shop, grocery store, farm market, local malls, online retailers, and gift centers are businesses that want to make money, so doing a little bit of research to discover when you’re actually getting the best price points will put more money in your wallet.
Without further ado, consider the following safety tips and ensure your holiday is blissful and enjoyable.
Online Shopping Tips
- Only shop on websites you trust.
- Look for a lock icon to the left of the store’s web address (URL) to be certain that you are ordering from a secure site.
- Only use credit cards online. Debit cards provide much less fraud protection.
- Keep all order documentation.
- If you’re looking for the best value, consider using well-known sites that allow you to find the best deals. From wine to waffle makers, and from cashmere sweaters to finding the cheapest car insurance, great deals are online a few clicks away.
- Read reviews, not just testimonials supplied on the site, but non-biased ones, as well.
- Beware of bargains that sound too good to be true. Online shops spring up every day with the hopes of luring customers, and there are many who take the money and close up shop soon after.
- Never respond to requests from “companies” that ask for your credit card information and password. A legitimate company would never do this. If you have a question about your account, call the company directly.
- Consider using multiuse or onetime disposable credit cards or even money orders to pay for items at auction sites and regular online stores, to keep your regular credit cards out of the system.
Retail Shopping Safety Tips
- Save all of your receipts.
- Don’t take your credit card out of your wallet until it is time to pay. Savvy thieves can easily peer over your shoulder to gain valuable credit card information while it’s in your hand or sitting on the counter.
- Use only one credit card to shop, to keep better track.
- Never leave your purse or wallet unattended.
- Don’t leave your license visible to others for too long (it has your name and address on it, after all).
- Don’t purchase more than you’re able to carry. Make trips to the car to lock the gifts away as often as necessary. Take a friend with you or ask a store employee or mall security to help you with your bags, never a stranger.
- If you see a bag or package unattended, immediately tell a security guard. This also applies to subways, trains, buses, etc.
Walking to Your Car
- Never leave packages visible from the windows, lock them away in the trunk or take them directly home.
- Keep your purse and wallet close to your body. Ideally, a purse should be strapped around the shoulder, across the body toward the front. This gives a thief virtually nothing to grab.
- Keep your keys in your hand from the time you leave the store until you’re inside the vehicle. Before getting into your car, check the back seat and around the entirety of the car before getting in.
- If you are uncomfortable walking to your car for any reason, for example, it’s nighttime or there aren’t many other people around, ask a security guard to walk you safely to your car.
Shopping with Small Children
- It’s easy for children to get separated from their parents in a crowd, and when the adult or child gets distracted by something that grabs their attention. Make a plan in case you are separated from one another. For example, agree to meet at “the fountain,” or some other centralized location.
- Be sure that the children have your contact information. Name and phone number. Practice the number over and over so they feel comfortable repeating it to a person in authority. If they are too young and can’t remember, print your contact number on the inside of their jacket.
- Teach children to feel comfortable walking up to a store employee or security guard to ask for help if they need it. (This can be something that is practiced during non-stressful times).
Everyone wants the holidays to go smoothly, and they certainly can with a little bit of preparation and planning. Remember to be a bit cautious, and to keep your credit card information out of the hands of others, and you should be able to relax peacefully after all of the hustle and bustle is done.