Published: Nov 24, 2010 8:31 PM EST
Updated: Nov 24, 2010 5:29 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla - Black Friday is the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. So, if you’re a bargain hunter with an alarm clock already set – know that thieves are also looking for a “steal”. The Fort Myers Police Department offers you the following tips to keep you safe:

Dress down:  Dress casually and comfortably.  Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.

Shop together:  Shop with friends and family during daylight hours.

Park smart:  Avoid dark, secluded areas and lock your car.

Stay alert:  Remember where you park. Be aware of suspicious cars and people.

Watch your purse:  Hold your purse close to your body or use a front pocket if carrying a wallet.  Preferably wear a fanny pack.

Avoid cash:  Never flash large amounts of money.  Use a credit card and never carry your social security card in your wallet.

Wait until asked before taking out your credit card: An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.

Educate your children:  Teach children to find a store clerk or security guard if you get separated.

Leaving the Store:  Have your keys out.  Put packages in the trunk of your car; never leave them visible inside the car.  Use an escort or mall security if you have too many packages.

Online Shopping Tips:

Update your computer: Keep your operating system, anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall software up to date.

Use credit cards rather than debit cards: When using a credit card federal law protects you from unauthorized charges. When using a credit card online, look for an unbroken key or padlock (a graphical icon usually located in the bottom corner of the web page), or for a policy that indicates use of strong security technology.

Keep a record of what you pay for: Always check your online purchases with your statement.

Know your merchant: Shop online only with companies you know and trust. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Protect your privacy: Look for seals from privacy enforcement organizations like TRUSTe or BBBOnLine. Be cautious if you're asked to supply personal information not needed to make a purchase. Don’t keep personal of financial information (including account passwords) on your computer.

For more information about identity theft visit www.myfloridalegal.com/identitythef