Black Friday is the biggest day for retailers....and for criminals! Protect yourself by following some important crime prevention tips.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the unofficial start of the holiday season, is the biggest day for retailers….and for criminals! Black Friday shopping has become, for many, a holiday tradition. Unfortunately, potential criminals see Black Friday as an opportunity to commit crimes because it is a time when busy people can become stressed out, careless and vulnerable to theft and other holiday crime.
Black Friday Crime Challenges:
• Pick Pockets
• ID Theft
• Mob Violence
• Crowd Trampling
Crime prevention strategies to deal with Black Friday challenges:
1. Always be aware of your surroundings – Stay alert at all times. Observe people and activities around you. Plan to use the safest and most direct route to your destination. Shop before dark and/or coordinate with a friend. Park in well-lit parking areas. Never walk or shop listening to music with your iPod or other device. Never walk or shop while talking on your cell phone. Be aware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year con-artists may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
2. Carry your valuables safely – If possible, do not carry a purse. Take only what you need, credit card, small amount of cash, ID, cell phone and put them in a coat or jacket pocket (inside pocket if possible). If you must carry a purse, use one with a shoulder strap and wear it diagonally across your body. Hold your purse firmly in front of your body. Men, put your wallet in your front pants pocket or inside jacket pocket. Don’t carry a large amount of cash on your person.
3. Packages – To keep your packages safe, do not buy more than you can carry. Never leave packages visible in your vehicle, lock them in your trunk before leaving the parking lot and proceeding to your next shopping destination.
a. Remember to have your keys readily available in your hand before you go to your car.
b. When approaching your vehicle to load your packages, keep one hand free to open your trunk.
c. While loading your packages, don’t leave your purse unattended.
4. Protect yourself against fraud – Don’t flash a lot of money around when you are shopping. Wait until asked before taking out your credit card. An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information. Sign the back of your credit cards and put “See ID” on there as well so sales associates will verify you are the correct person using the card. Always protect your PIN for your debit card. Shield your PIN when entering it on a keypad. If your credit card is lost or stolen, report it to your financial institution immediately. If anything seems unusual about an ATM, don’t use it and report the situation to police or the financial institution of the ATM immediately. Once the shopping season is over, check your monthly financial statements or view your account information online and look for any unusual transactions.
5. Avoid Cyber Fraud – Do not respond to unsolicited email or click links contained within them. Avoid filling out forms contained in email messages that ask for personal information, instead log on directly to the official website for any retailer you wish to do business with. Beware of requests to act quickly. Scammers often try to create a false sense of urgency. If you receive an email with an opportunity that seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you wish to explore the offer further, contact the business that supposedly sent the email to verify the offer is genuine.
6. Diffuse confrontations – Back off from situations that put you in a confrontation with another person. Let the other person win; is the item really worth the potential ramifications? Try to diffuse the situation by remaining calm and keeping your composure.
7. Crowd safety precautions – Things get weird in a mob setting and people act in ways they would not normally act. Be sure you carry your cell phone and can call for help if needed. Shop with other people, there may be safety in numbers. Use social media to alert you to where to stay away from. If you get stuck in a mob scene, be prepared and stay calm and move away from the scene as quickly as possible and get to a safe place. Always call 911 for help.
Don’t let criminals be your scrooge this holiday season. Take a few precautions when you shop and you’ll enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.