Most people look forward to Black Friday as the ultimate shopping day of the year, when they get up early and rush to their favorite stores in order to knock out their holiday shopping. While there is a lot of fun to be had, there are also several risk factors that have to be accounted for. Criminals are privy to the shopping season as well, however a typical thief would most likely see a store full of victims instead of shoppers. Whether shopping at a store or shopping online, here are the best ways to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable Black Friday, as recommended by the National Crime Prevention Council.
Shopping at the Store
- Don’t forget there is safety in numbers. Thieves are less likely to target a group of shoppers. When a person decides to shop onBlack Friday alone, the risk of being targeted is more likely. Try shopping with a friend or family member. Not only are they there to keep you company but also they can keep you safe.
- Do not buy more than you can carry. Plan ahead by taking a friend with you or ask a store employee to help you carry your packages to the car.
- 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.
- Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook. An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.
- Deter pickpockets. Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
- Create a Child Separation Plan. If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you get separated. Select a central meeting place and make sure they know they can ask mall personnel or store security employees if they need help. It is best to leave small children at home.
- Always be aware of your surroundings. Keeping yourself safe means being aware of your surroundings at all time. Beware of strangers who may approach you. This is the time of year when thieves and scammers are in full force and use various methods to distract you with intentions of taking your money and belongings. Watch for loiterers, and alert security if you see any suspicious activity.
How to Park Smart
- Park your vehicle in well-lighted areas. If you are an early morning, before-the-sunrise’sBlack Friday shopper, be sure to park your vehicle underneath a light post. Avoid parking next to vans and large trucks that block your space from the general vision of others. Remember to lock your doors while waiting for a store to open. If possible, walk to your car and to the store with a partner.
- Don’t leave tempting items or packagesvisible in your vehicle. Nothing gets a thief going like bags that are clearly visible. Conceal your merchandise at all times. Put all of your items in the trunk or underneath the seats where they are out of sight. If possible, take your bags directly home instead of leaving them in the car.
- Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
- Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies if you are using mass transit.
- Shop online with companies you know and trust. Check a company’s background if you are not familiar with it. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
- Save all 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.
- Keep your personal information private and your password secure. Do not respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses will not contact you in this manner.
- Beware of “bargains” from companies with whom you are unfamiliar — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address.
- To avoid purchasing counterfeit products, carefully examine the products you want to buy for signs of missing information (manufacturing information, warranty, product codes, etc.), broken or missing safety seals, different or incomplete packaging, and subtle or obvious changes to a company logo.