Advice for shoppers on Black Friday

Published 6:07 pm Wednesday, November 25, 2009

With the holiday shopping season set to kick off on Friday, the Attorney General’s office offers the following suggestions for safe holiday shopping:

– Do not announce your holiday shopping or travel plans on your blog, Facebook, MySpace, or any other social networking site or other website, or through an email auto-reply message. It allows potential thieves to know when your house is vulnerable to a break-in.

– Be very careful while shopping online. While some online sites are operated by reputable businesses, many online sites are not. Only shop with those you know are reputable.

Email newsletter signup

– Using “secure” Web sites will help ensure that personal information, such as your name, address and credit card number, is transmitted to the merchant safely, without being intercepted by a third party. Identify secure Web sites by looking for Web addresses that begin with “https” and look for a small padlock symbol at the bottom of the page.

– Avoid leaving packages or shopping bags visible in your car – lock them in the trunk out of sight if you must leave packages in your car unattended. Return to your vehicle periodically to check on it and to reduce the amount you are carrying with you.

– When possible, have purchases delivered instead of taking them with you; many businesses offer free delivery during the holiday shopping season.

– When purchasing your gifts, be aware of the store’s refund/exchange policy. The store should have it posted or listed on your receipt. Be sure to find out what the policy is before you leave the store.

– Shop with friends or relatives if possible; there is safety in numbers. As you shop, be alert in crowded places. Among pickpockets’ favorites are revolving doors, jammed aisles, elevators, public transportation stops and vehicles, especially at rush hour. Carry the day’s most expensive purchases closest to your body, and don’t carry so much that you lose the ability to react quickly.

– If possible, leave your children with a baby-sitter while you are shopping. For holiday shopping, consider making arrangements with family or friends/neighbors, and take turns baby-sitting. If you take your children with you, keep a close eye on them while shopping. Teach your children to go to a store clerk, security guard or police officer if they get separated from you in the store or mall, and be sure they know their first and last name so they can tell someone who they are. It is best to keep children under age four in a stroller.

– Using a drive-up ATM (automated teller machine) is usually safer than walking up to an ATM. Remember to look around you as you make your withdrawal. Many ATMs now have “fisheye” mirrors mounted above the keyboard to enable you to view the entire surrounding area while conducting business.

– Never drive with your purse on the front seat. A crook can break your window and steal your purse in a matter of seconds.