I hope everyone is enjoying a safe Christmas season so far! The National Crime Prevention Council has disseminated 10 easy tips to prevent being a victim of theft since so many criminals will be among all of the people out shopping. But in true Chocolate Vent style, I’ve decided to add my own “spin” on these very helpful tips –
1. Don’t buy more than you can carry – If you have too much stuff try to get someone else help you carry your packages out to the car. But let’s face it, if you bought that many gifts you’re probably spending more than you really should be.
2. Shop online with companies you know & trust – Check a company’s background if you are not familiar with them. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true it usually is. Plus, why would you try to do business with a brand new company just a few weeks before Christmas, anyway?
3. Save all your 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. But in case you forget or misplace them, your purchases should all be listed on your credit card statements. Also, most retailers give store credit in case you throw away your receipts like I do.
4. Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as onetime or multiuse disposable credit cards or money orders, at online stores and auction sites – My alternate options are just not to buy anything at all. I’ll just wait to get my Christmas gifts, exchange them all after the holiday for store credit & use that to buy what I really want.
5. Leave the lights on at your house or install a “timer switch” so that your return home can be much safer – It’s always nice to give the illusion that you are home when you really aren’t. It might scare some people off from breaking in. I like leaving my lights on anyway so I don’t stumble over all the new stuff I’ve just bought when I walk into my front door.
6. Deter pickpockets – Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket. But if you’re broke like me & get pickpocketed, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.
7. Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle – Check the back seat and around the car before getting in. If nothing else, you can use your car keys as a weapon to scratch someone up if they try to attack you in the parking lot. If you have a newer car just use the “Alarm” button on your car remote to signal for attention. But yelling out “Chips & Salsa” for no apparent reason also helps people look in your direction too =)
8. Do not leave packages visible in your car windows – Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home. But be sure to put the packages in the trunk before you go to your next shopping destination. I always throw my jacket over anything I leave in my backseat. Or you can just get all of your windows tinted so no one can see anything in your car, including you.
9. Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package – The same applies if you are using mass transit. Just remember, if it looks suspicious, it probably is. But it is the holiday season, so if you see a package just laying around consider it a free Christmas present to yourself (lol).
10. If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you get separated – Select a central meeting place and make sure they know how to ask mall personnel or store security employees for help. Or if you’ve decided you’d like to donate your children for the holidays feel free to let them continue to roam around the mall all alone.
Happy holiday shopping everyone!