When online, shop at secure websites. If the site is not well-known, research the site or the hosting company on-line by accessing the Better Business Bureau site or the site that hosts your Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware provider BEFORE making transactions. Even simply researching the site on search sites such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing can be helpful. This, in most cases, will make you aware of potential problems with the site or the vendor.
When paying, make sure the website address begins with https (the “s” at the end means it’s secure). Make sure that the bottom status line of your browser displays the symbol for secure data transmission (usually displayed as a padlock on the bottom right). This also means the website encrypts the information it sends.
Packages that sit on a porch or door step are more likely to be stolen. There have been cases where thieves will drive behind a delivery truck and wait for the driver to leave the package on the porch or doorstep and then steal the package.
Always try to request signature confirmation on deliveries. This will ensure that the delivery person won’t leave the package unattended. If possible, send the package to your place of work, to a relative or to a neighbor that is home during the time of the delivery and is expecting the package, so someone will sign for it, if you are not available. Another way to be assured of receiving the package is to arrange for pick-up at the carrier’s point of distribution, rather than having the package delivered. This can usually be done fairly easily by phone and having the tracking number handy.
If you prefer to shop in the store, remember the holidays are a busy time of year and everyone has a lot on their mind. Criminals are looking to take advantage of you while you are at your busiest.
Remember these tips when you’re out shopping for your holiday gifts:
Hold any bags or purses containing valuables close to your body, with the opening facing toward you. If they are equipped with carrying straps, use them. When walking with another person, such bags or purses should be maintained between the two of you.
Stow your purchases in the trunk of your vehicle. You may be tempted to throw your purchases in the back seat of your vehicle and return to continue shopping. If your purchases are in plain view, you may return to find your car windows smashed and your presents stolen.
Save your most expensive purchases for last, so you can head straight home. Make major purchases such as computers, television sets, jewelry, etc… separate shopping days. This allows you to focus on the items not only preventing potential theft, but also preventing damage caused to them by being poorly secured during transport and/or by being accidentally mishandled.
When purchasing major or expensive items, be aware of your surroundings. Thieves have been known to follow customers from vendors and stores to places such as restaurants, even their homes, to steal the newly purchased items while the attention of the customer is diverted elsewhere.
Never leave your purchases unattended, even for a few minutes.
If you see any suspicious activity either close to your home, or while you are out shopping, call the Sheriff’s station at (818) 248-3464 or 9-1-1 in an emergency.