Safety and security tips for physical and online shopping during the festive season
With Christmas just a few weeks away many of us will be hitting the shops – hard. It’s the busiest period for shopping all year round; however, it’s also the busiest period in a thieves calendar. And with the crowds, noise, hustle bustle and screaming children, it’s easy to get distracted or disoriented.
Around this time of year, many police forces begin issuing seasonal crime prevention messages about the risks associated with Christmas shopping, where the high streets are rammed if opportunist pickpocketers.
At Solid Rock, we are well aware of the risks posed to people shopping in busy areas during the festive period. Therefore, we have compiled a list of handy tips to help prevent theft of personal items and keep your belongings safe
1.Keep your bag secure to prevent ‘purse dipping’
Keep your purse, mobile phone, wallet and bank cards out of sight in a fastened, zipped handbag to avoid thieves grabbing your personal items. Ensure pickpockets are unable to gain easy access or visibility to your important items.
Women should ensure the catch of their handbag is facing towards their body for maximum protection; men should keep their wallets in a front trouser pocket – not the outer jacket pocket.
2.Be wary of people loitering around cash machines
Cardholders should be mindful of people hanging around ATMs. Thieves have been known to tamper with cash machines or steal credit and bank cards, and Christmas is a prime time of year to be withdrawing large quantities of money.
In addition, when entering your PIN number into a cash machine, always keep the keypad covered by your hand and take note of who is around you.
3. Consider making big purchases last
If you plan to make a particularly valuable purchase, consider doing so at the end of your shopping trip. The less time you are walking around with expensive items, the less chance they have of being stolen or lost.
Additionally, certain stores may be able to hold your items back for you until you have finished your shopping trip. If so, we recommend using this service and picking up for shopping on your way back to the car.
4. Keep a note of important information
Keep a record of your bank account number and sort code, as well as any emergency telephone numbers in case your cards or phone are stolen. This will ensure you can contact the appropriate people as quickly as possible, and cancel your cards before anyone has a chance to use them.
5. Don’t leave shopping on view
If you decide to take your shopping back to the car before heading out for round two, be sure to conceal any present or packages somewhere secure. A pickpocket may be more inclined to break into your vehicle if the goodies are on display. Instead, keep items locked out of sight
6. Park your vehicle in a lit area
If you are shopping during the day, remember that the nights draw in pretty quickly at this time of year. It is important to park in a lit area, and where you are visible to the public to ensure the safety or yourself and your belongings.
If possible, park in the car parks of big retail shops and shopping malls – they will have much better lighting and security measures for their customers.
7. Once in the car, secure it from the inside
Thieves jumping into an unlocked car whilst you are busy sending a text or preparing for your journey home is not uncommon. To prevent this, the first thing you should do when you get in the car is lock all the doors from the inside.
8. Take a SAFE break
Just the thought of going Christmas shopping can be tiresome, so it’s no wonder many of us take a lunch or coffee break mid-way through. If you are doing so with a handful of bags, do not place these – or your handbag – on the back of your chair.
Keep all bags on the floor directly in front of you, and put a chair leg over the strap or handle of your bag to keep it secure while you are sat down.
9. Use a Familiar and Trusted Website
The first rule of online shopping is simple; stick to trusted websites. Prioritize websites that have an established brand reputation to protect, and who would go out of their way to ensure a seamless online shopping experience for their customers.
10. Stick to Using HTTPS
HTTPS is the more secure alternative to HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). Without getting too technical, HTTPS uses an additional layer of security to protect transported data. To identify a page using HTTPS, you should see https:// with an s as part of the page URL, instead of http:// without an s.
11. Be Cautious of Free Public Wi-Fi
Free Wi-Fi is tempting. If you use the free Wi-Fi at any public place or any public location to do your shopping, that’s a dangerous practice you should stop. Unsecured hotspots are a big no-no, especially if you are not using HTTPS when shopping online.
12. Use a Difficult Password
When buying this holiday season, you might end up creating a lot of customer accounts to put in your orders. Those accounts need a password to protect all the sensitive information you will be putting in there. Your address, cellphone number, credit card number, CVV number, and card expiry date, are the typical information you’ll need to buy stuff online. They’re also the kind of information that digital thieves will be hunting for.
13. Use 2-Factor Authentication (2FA)
You’ve probably read about 2-Factor authentication and how useful it can be. If you’ve neglected the idea, now is probably the time to take it seriously. Yes, it can be a pain having to complete a longer authentication process, but it makes it extremely difficult, perhaps even impossible, for intruders to break into any online account that has 2FA enabled.
14. Choose Your Payment Methods Wisely
When it comes to using the checkout feature to pay, you need to give serious thought as to how you want to pay.
15. Don’t Be So Forthcoming With Your Information
Holiday seasons are typically doted with freebies. But be careful of the ones you accept. You’ll find a lot of offers that asks you to fill a form to get a gift. All you have to do is provide little information about yourself. Be cautious. The information you give out today may come back to haunt you later
16. Be Cautious of Discounted Offers
Remember the old saying, “if it’s too good to be true, it usually is.” You’re not going to get the latest MacBook Air for under $300 because some random site with a phony name says so. Yes, it’s holiday season, and you’ll find a lot of goods at heavily discounted prices. You’ll naturally be on the lookout for such deals.
17. Scan Suspicious Shopping Links before Clicking
Be Cautious Meeting In Person With Private Sellers
Be very careful when going to pick up something from a seller in person. You might think you are smart saving those shipping fees from that Craigslist poster. But what if the “seller” happens to be an uncontrollable psychopath off his meds? You think that’s too far-fetched? What if he’s an armed robber?
You’ve probably given out your email address to more websites that you can keep track of. Once scammers get hold of your email and personal information, they’ll use it to target you by emailing you deals you’ll most likely want to grab. There’s one problem though—it’s a bait.
At Solid Rock, we wish all our clients and loved ones A Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2023 ahead.