Stay safe this holiday season

Published 10:11 am Tuesday, December 14, 2010

With Christmas less than two weeks away, the rush is on to get that holiday shopping done. Unfortunately, criminals enjoy playing Scrooge to citizens through thefts, burglaries and scams during the season.

Holiday safety, like charity, starts at home:

– Be vigilant about locking doors when you leave the house, even if you are only planning to be gone a short period of time.

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– Avoid putting large displays of holiday gifts in view of your windows and doors.

– When going out for the evening or going out of town, use automatic timers to turn indoor lights on and off to make it appear you are at home. Add a radio or television for more realism. Also, if you are going to be out of town for several days, be sure and arrange for mail delivery to be suspended.

– Don’t advertise what you got for Christmas by putting boxes out on trash day. Break the boxes down.

It’s also important to take precautions while shopping:

– Lock packages in trunk.

– Don’t overload yourself with packages.

– If you have to shop in the evening, shop with a friend.

– Park in well-lighted areas, as close as possible to store entrances. Be particularly aware of people in the parking lot, especially near your car.

– Carry only the credit/debit cards you will need. Never carry or flash large sums of cash.

– Always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Don’t allow your attention to become distracted from your purse or packages.  Men should carry wallets in front or side pockets.

Shopping online is convenient, but there are dangers there, too:

– Use just one credit card. If there is a problem you have only one company to deal with.

– Don’t shop using Wi-Fi. Your iPhone, Blackberry, Smartphone and laptop can easily be hacked on a free or paid public Wi-Fi spot.

– Do pay close attention to web addresses. Always look for the “https://” when you enter personal information, indicating you are transmitting data within a secure site.

– Do watch where you click. Watch for suspicious pop-ups, attachments from unknown sources or strange web links.

– Do get the latest web protection software for your laptop or PC.

Take care and have a very merry and safe holiday season.