Secure Your Joy: Your Ultimate Guide to Safe and Secure Shopping in 2023
Holiday shopping is a time of celebration and gift-giving, but unfortunately, it also sees an increase in various types of crimes. While the exact statistics can vary from year to year and from one region to another, here are some common holiday shopping crime trends and statistics to be aware of:
- Shoplifting incidents tend to rise during the holiday season, with many individuals attempting to steal items, often concealed in shopping bags or clothing.
- In the United States, for example, the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention estimated that over $13 billion worth of goods are stolen from retailers each year, and the holiday season typically sees a spike in these thefts.
- As more people shop online during the holidays, cybercrime becomes a significant concern. Cybercriminals may target online shoppers with phishing scams, credit card fraud, and identity theft.
- According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), reports of online shopping-related fraud increased during the holiday season, with thousands of consumers falling victim to various scams.
- Package Theft (Porch Piracy):
- With the rise in online shopping, “porch piracy” or the theft of packages left on doorsteps has become a prevalent issue.
- Various reports indicate that package theft incidents spike during the holiday season, particularly as more people have packages delivered to their homes.
- Parking Lot Crimes:
- Parking lots of shopping centers and malls can be hotspots for crimes like car break-ins, theft, and even assaults.
- Law enforcement agencies often issue warnings and increase patrols in shopping areas during the holidays to deter such incidents.
- Retail stores may experience an increase in armed robberies during the holiday season, as criminals seek to steal cash and high-value merchandise.
- Data from law enforcement agencies can provide specific statistics on the number of holiday-related robberies.
- Counterfeit Goods:
- The holiday shopping season often sees an influx of counterfeit products being sold, especially online. These counterfeit goods can range from clothing and electronics to toys and cosmetics.
- Charity Scams:
- Criminals sometimes take advantage of the holiday spirit by running charity scams, where they solicit donations for fake or non-existent charitable causes.
In Person Holiday Shopping Tips
- Plan Ahead
Before heading out, make a list of what you need to buy and where you plan to shop. This will help you stay focused, avoid unnecessary stops, and minimize the time you spend in crowded areas.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings:
- Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded places.
- Keep an eye on your belongings and be cautious of pickpockets.
- Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Put away your phone and avoid distractions while walking, especially in parking lots and busy streets. Criminals often look for distracted individuals as easy targets.
- Use Well-Lit and Busy Areas
Choose stores and shopping centers in well-lit and busy areas. Criminals are less likely to target places with a high volume of shoppers and good visibility.
- Avoid Carrying Large Amounts of Cash:
- Use credit or debit cards instead of carrying large amounts of cash.
- If you must use cash, carry only what you need and use a crossbody bag or backpack with secure closures. Be discreet when taking out your wallet or phone. If you carry a purse, hold it close to your body.
- Protect Your Personal Information:
- Be cautious about sharing personal information with store clerks or strangers.
- Don’t disclose unnecessary details when making purchases.
- Use a Secure Payment Method:
- If possible, use contactless payment methods or mobile wallets for transactions.
- Cover the keypad when entering your PIN to protect it from prying eyes.
- Keep Valuables Out of Sight:
- Avoid displaying expensive jewelry, gadgets, or other valuables that might attract attention.
- Consider leaving non-essential items at home.
- Park in Well-Lit Areas:
- Park in well-lit, designated parking areas as close to the store entrance as possible. Always lock your car, and don’t leave valuable items in plain sight. If you have holiday packages in your car, consider moving them to the trunk.
- Be mindful of your surroundings when walking to and from your car.
- Have a Plan for Children:
- If you have children with you, establish a meeting point in case you get separated.
- Teach children what to do if they become lost, such as finding a store employee or security personnel.
- Maintain Physical Distancing:
- Follow public health guidelines and maintain a safe distance from others, especially in queues or crowded areas.
- Respect store capacity limits and wait your turn if necessary.
- Shop with a Buddy
Consider shopping with a friend or family member, especially during late hours or in unfamiliar areas. There’s safety in numbers, and potential criminals are less likely to target groups.
- Sanitize Your Hands:
- Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer and use it regularly, especially after touching surfaces.
- Wash your hands thoroughly when you have the opportunity.
- Shop Early or Late
Avoid the crowds by shopping during off-peak hours. Stores are typically less crowded early in the morning or later in the evening, which can make your shopping experience more enjoyable and safer.
- Inspect ATMs:
- If you need to use an ATM, choose one in a well-lit, secure location.
- Check for any unusual devices attached to the machine that may indicate tampering.
- Trust Your Instincts:
If something doesn’t feel right or you sense danger, trust your instincts. Alert store security or law enforcement if necessary. It’s always better to be cautious.
By staying vigilant and taking these precautions, you can enhance your safety while enjoying the holiday shopping experience in person.
Safe Online Shopping Tips
Safe shopping during the holidays is crucial to protect your personal and financial information. Here are some tips to help ensure a secure shopping experience:
- Shop from Trusted Websites:
- Stick to reputable and well-known online retailers.
- Look for websites with secure URLs (https://) and a padlock icon in the address bar.
- Use Strong Passwords:
- Create unique and strong passwords for your online accounts.
- Avoid using easily guessable information, such as your name or birthdate.
- Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):
- Whenever possible, enable 2FA for an extra layer of security.
- Update Software and Antivirus Protection:
- Keep your operating system, antivirus software, and browsers up to date to protect against vulnerabilities.
- Beware of Phishing Scams:
- Be cautious of emails or messages with unexpected links or attachments.
- Avoid clicking on links in emails; instead, type the website address directly into your browser.
- Check Website Security:
- Look for secure payment options, such as credit cards or trusted payment gateways.
- Monitor Your Accounts:
- Regularly review your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions.
- Set up account alerts for large or suspicious transactions.
- Shop on Secure Networks:
- Avoid making purchases using public Wi-Fi networks.
- Use a virtual private network (VPN) for an added layer of security when accessing public networks.
- Keep Personal Information Private:
- Be cautious about sharing too much personal information, both online and offline.
- Only provide necessary information during the checkout process.
- Be Wary of Deals That Seem Too Good to Be True:
- If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often use attractive offers to lure victims.
- Use Credit Cards Instead of Debit Cards:
- Credit cards usually offer better fraud protection than debit cards.
- Consider using a dedicated credit card for online purchases.
- Save Receipts and Confirmation Emails:
- Keep records of your online transactions, including receipts and confirmation emails.
- This documentation can be useful in case of disputes or returns.
- Be Mindful of Package Deliveries:
- Track your packages to know when they are expected to arrive.
- If possible, have packages delivered to a secure location, like a locked mailbox or a trusted neighbor.
By following these safe shopping tips, you can help protect yourself from online threats and ensure a secure and enjoyable holiday shopping experience.
With these safe shopping tips in mind, you can enjoy the holiday season without compromising your safety. By being prepared, vigilant, and taking precautions, you can make your holiday shopping experience as joyful and stress-free as possible. Remember that your safety should always be a top priority, allowing you to fully savor the spirit of the season. Happy and safe shopping!
Security Engineers has many tools to help keep your place of business safe during the holiday season and all year long. To learn more about how we can help keep your business and customers safe, please fill out the form below, call us at 205.251.0566, or email us at [email protected].