The holiday season is supposed to be a time of traditions, togetherness and fun. We are inclined to go a bit overboard in trying to make the most of every minute of the season and to maximize the joy it’s supposed to hold.
In our haste to embrace the spirit of the holidays we can fall into a false sense of security and leave ourselves vulnerable to the Scrooges lurking in the shadows, waiting to mess with our merriment.
It seems that for every party, family gathering or cherished moment we are blessed with during the holiday season, you hear about schemes designed to take advantage of your guard being down as you celebrate and attempt to navigate your way through the hustle and bustle. Taking a few moments to protect yourself and your family will go a long way in avoiding a Nightmare Before Christmas.
- Put timers on a few lights in your house
- Ask a neighbor to watch your house and turn on the front porch light at night
- Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway off and on during your time away
- Have mail delivery stopped or ask the neighbor to hold it for you until you return
- Always be aware of your surroundings
- Park in a well-lit area
- Lock your car and hide shopping bags and packages in the trunk
- Carry a purse that can be held close to your body and carry a wallet either in your front pants pocket or inside your coat pocket
- Minimize the amount of cash you carry
- Know the numbers to call just in case you lose your credit cards
- Make sure your little ones know how to find a store clerk if they get separated from you
- Look for the lock – Never buy anything from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption – at the very least. You can tell if a site has SSL when the site’s URL is HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP://). An icon of a locked padlock should appear in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser or right next to the URL address in the address bar at the top of the page.
- Use familiar websites – Use a familiar website instead of a search engine result. Beware of websites with misspelled names or ones using a different top-level domain (instead of .com or .net).
- Need to Know – Online shopping websites don’t need your social security number or date of birth. The more information someone has about you, the easier it is to steal your identity. Supply as little information as possible to complete your transaction
- Sign up to get delivery updates
- Ask a neighbor to retrieve your package once it’s delivered
- Consider having your packages delivered to your work
- Take advantage of available ship-to store options and pick up your order at your convenience
After the gifts have been opened be aware that burglars will be on the lookout for boxes stashed in plain view that may have contained expensive items like computers, televisions, electronics, etc. Leave boxes in your garage or somewhere they can’t be seen until the day of your garbage pickup. Lastly, and most importantly, make the most of the family gatherings, time with friends and enjoying the season. Most thefts are crimes of opportunity. By doing something as simple as raising your level of awareness, you’ll be more likely to avoid anyone messing with your merriment and you’ll Stick it to Scrooge in the process.
By Melissa Somers, Executive Director, CPP of SoCal