As holiday season approaches, here’s tips on keeping safe while shopping

You all know what a good deal looks like, but do you know how to keep yourself safe when looking for that deal?

Nobody likes getting ripped off. While property crime in Florida is trending down, you should not let down your guard.

One important concept to keep in mind is when you are checking that shopping list because many forget to maintain awareness of their safety list. For instance, avoid keeping keys out, put your phone away and make sure when parking your car to do so in a well-lit area.

But it is not just about being aware. It is also imperative to be prepared. Your keys are out and your phone is away. But, if you run into trouble, an alarm can provide a good distraction.

Corporal Mark Schaible, with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Road Patrol says, “As you are traveling through the parking lot you are going to want to keep you pocketbook close to you, don’t be talking on the phone, don’t be text messaging while you are walking, this way you can be aware of your surroundings.

Don’t leave valuables in plain sight. Lock all valuables, including gifts, in your trunk. And if you have an SUV, put them in the back and cover them with a blanket.

Also, hide your packages in the trunk or under a blanket. There is no need to carry a lot of cash to the mall. But a lot of you will be shopping online. Keep your computer and phone security up to date and use reputable websites. Check reviews and confirm you are logged onto a secure web page.

Online Shopping

Always make sure you are on the real website and not a fake site. When shopping, a debit card lacks the protection a credit card provides you.

Sergeant Diane Young with the Charlotte County Sheriffs Office Economics Crime Unit, says, “I would recommend that you use websites or deal with retailers that you used before… If you are going to use someone that you have not used before, maybe saw them on Facebook, check them out before you use them. Check out their reviews. Just Google them.”

Also, use a virtual private network (VPN) while you’re on any public Wi-Fi, so your data will be encrypted to better protect you.

Don’t store your credit card information with a retailer. They may encourage you to save it to make future purchases quicker, but if your account gets hacked, a crook could be shopping on your dime. If you do store it, make sure your passwords are unique, strong and you use two-factor authentication.

Sgt. Young also advises, “Use your credit cards and you can take the money from your debit card or your checking account and pay off your credit cards. But you have some protection with your credit cards. Much more protection.”

Reporter:Rich Kolko
Writer:WINK News
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