Holiday Safety: Be careful when shopping — even online
This is the first post of a series about keeping your family and property safe this holiday season.
By Lt. Craig Anderson, CSPD Public Information Officer
When Christmas shopping, you usually find yourself among enormous crowds at retail shops, malls, and grocery stores. These sizable gatherings also provide a perfect cover for those who are a little short on Christmas spirit — thieves.
If you shop online, you are equally susceptible to being targeted.
Don’t let the bad guys spoil your holiday season. By following these 10 simple tips, you reduce your chances of becoming a victim:
- Keep careful track of your bags and other packages. If you leave something behind, it could be stolen or discarded.
- Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies when taking mass transit: report any unattended packages to security or staff.
- Be sure not to buy more than you can carry. If your packages are making it hard for you to walk upright or see, ask a store employee to help you take them to your car.
- Check receipts to see whether your full credit card number appears. If a receipt has the entire number on it, take a pen and thoroughly scratch it out.
- Double check that you have your credit cards and checkbook after you pay for your items.
- Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Your computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed. Visit bytecrime.org for free software downloads.
- Keep your personal information and passwords private and secure. Don’t respond to requests to verify your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses won’t contact you in this manner.
- Beware of bargains from unfamiliar online companies. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the locked padlock icon or “https” in the URL address.
- Shop online companies you know and trust. Check for background information if you plan to buy from a new or unfamiliar company.
Safe Exchange Zone
If you purchase an item through a website such as Craig’s List and need to exchange property in person with a stranger, we encourage you to use the designated exchange zone in the police department’s main parking lot at 2611 South Texas Ave. We record video of the area 24 hours a day.
Let’s work together to keep College Station a safe place to live, work and play by taking away opportunities for crime. The College Station Police Department wishes you a safe and joyous holiday season.
About the Blogger
Lt. Craig Anderson is in his 30th year with the College Station Police Department.
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