SHOPPING SAFETY TIPS
holiday season is right around the corner and shoppers are crowding malls
and discount stores to buy the latest gadgets and find the best
But what shoppers are neglecting
is their safety. According to Sheriff Whisenant, “This time of
year attracts more shopping-related criminal activity because of the larger
crowds and the extended store hours. These factors and the usual
distraction of shopping, creates a more favorable environment for petty
thieves and other offenders.”
The Sheriff reminds all
Burke County residents to follow these safety tips:
A single shopper is the best
target for theft. Always shop with a friend or relative.
When going shopping, tell
someone where you are going and what time to expect you to return.
Also, make sure they know what you are wearing, as well as the type of
vehicle you are driving.
Shop during daylight
hours. If you shop at night, park your vehicle in a well-lit area.
Dress casually and
comfortably and avoid wearing expensive jewelry. If carrying cash,
keep it in your front pocket rather than in a purse or wallet. This
makes it much more difficult for a pick-pocket to remove. Also store
car keys in a pants or jacket pocket. If your purse is stolen, you
will still be able to drive home.
Pay careful attention to
your surroundings and avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is
important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
When returning to your
vehicle, check around it and in the back seat. Be aware of strangers
approaching you for any reason. Have your car keys in your hand to
avoid spending unnecessary time unprotected from the security of your
If you feel uneasy returning
to your vehicle alone, find a security guard and ask them to walk you to
“During this time of
year, busy holiday shoppers become careless and vulnerable to other crimes
as well. Credit card fraud and gift card fraud are on the rise.
However, taking a few preventive measures can help.”
Keep a close watch on your
credit card every time you use it, and make sure you get it back as quickly
Never write your PIN number
on your credit card.
Never leave your credit
cards or receipts lying around.
Shield your credit card
number so that others around you can’t copy it or capture it on a
mobile telephone or other camera.
Only carry credit cards that
you absolutely need.
Shred anything with your
credit card number written on it.
If you’re planning to
purchase online, make sure the web page where you enter your credit card
information is secure through SSL (Secure Socket Layer). You can tell
if the web page is secure by looking for the gold lock or key icon at the
bottom corner of your browser window.
If you’re not
comfortable submitting your information through the internet, call the
seller and give them your information over the telephone. Never send
your credit card information via email.
Check the company out.
Only do business with companies that provide a physical address and
Keep good records.
Always print out a copy of any online products or services you purchase.
Never buy gift cards from
online auction sites. This is a large source of gift card
fraud. Many of the gift cards are stolen, counterfeit or used.
Only buy gift cards directly
from the store issuing the gift card or from a secure retailer’s
Don’t buy gift cards
off of publicly displayed racks in retail stores. Only purchase gift
cards at the sales terminal from the cashier.
Always carefully examine
both the front and back of a gift card before you buy it. If you see
a PIN number, ask for a different card. If the card looks like it has
been tampered with in any way, put it back.
Always ask the store cashier
to scan the gift card in front of you. This will guarantee that your
card is valid when you buy it and that it reflects the balance you just
charged it with.
Always keep your receipt as
a proof of purchase as long as there is money stored on the gift card.
If possible, register your
gift card at the store’s website.
Never give your Social
Security number, date of birth or any other unneeded private information
when purchasing a gift card. No reputable company will ask for this
In light of these problems,
Sheriff Whisenant warns shoppers to be careful so that they don’t
become the victim of criminal activity. “Unfortunately, when
shopping, people have a tendency to let their guard down. However, paying
attention and taking precautions can help eliminate their chances of being