While the shopping malls and outdoor shopping areas are busy with holiday cheer and the purchasing of gifts, it is also busy with Scrooges and Grinches – criminals and scammers – looking to take advantage of your holiday spirit!
‘Tis the Season to be Jolly! Well folks, it’s that time of year again! With the Christmas and Holiday Season comes shopping, shopping, and more shopping! Many of us have decided to do a large portion of our shopping online, but there are still tens of millions of people taking advantage of in store holiday sales. While the shopping malls and outdoor shopping centers are busy with holiday cheer and the purchasing of gifts, it is also busy with Scrooges and Grinches – criminals and scammers – looking to take advantage of your holiday spirit! Let’s look at some easy shopping safety tips that can help you and your family stay safe this Holiday Season!
- Keep your purse or handbag close to your body where it is not easily accessible.
- Keep your wallet and phone in a front pocket.
- Don’t take any money out until it is time to pay.
- Do not flash a lot of cash!
- If shopping with children, make sure they stay close to you. Discuss with them beforehand a safe meeting place in case you get separated. Also, teach your children your name, first and last (not just Mom or Dad), along with your phone number and address. Furthermore, teach them how to ask an employee or security guard for help. Remember, many criminals will prey on people shopping with children due to the likelihood of them being more distracted. Stay extra vigilant!
- Use only one credit card when shopping! Unfortunately, data breaches, card skimmers and sometimes unscrupulous employees can steal your card information. Using only one card eliminates the possibility of multiple cards being compromised. Make sure you save your receipts and check your card activity frequently.
- There may be times when certain people who appear needy or homeless may ask you for money or for some other type of monetary support. While assisting people is ultimately up to you, be aware that many of these people, while not all of them, could be scammers trying to get more than the few dollars they are asking for. Furthermore, they may be working in teams to cause a distraction to take advantage of you while your guard is down.
Please note that most communities have existing outreach programs that vets and will help the needy and homeless in your community. If you are looking for a way to give back and help this Christmas season, contact a reputable charity or church. Ask how you can help this Holiday Season. Furthermore, there are usually members, volunteers, and workers with the Salvation Army in front of most stores who you can always donate a few dollars to. We strongly encourage everyone to participate in giving back to their communities, whether it be your time, talent, or money. Our firm is proud to participate in several different charitable campaigns during the Holiday Season.
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Car Safety (Parking Lot Safety)
Every year, Walton Law Firm, P.C. will receive multiple phone calls from someone or from someone’s loved one who has been injured by a car in the parking lot. Unfortunately, some of those phone calls involve a pedestrian who has been injured. Most of the time, a car hitting or running into a pedestrian will cause severe, and at times catastrophic injury. We want everyone to be safe this Holiday Season from injury and from becoming a victim of criminal activity. Here are some easy steps to stay safe!
- Be Patient. Don’t let Road Rage get to you. If someone wants a parking spot that bad – just let them have it and move on to another spot.
- Do not speed! This time of year means there are more pedestrians and more cars coming in and out of parking spaces. Slow down and drive with caution.
- Do not drive distracted! Need to send a text, check an incoming text in or needing to check that online sales flyer? We promise, it can wait. No text or coupon code is worth injuring yourself or even worse, another person or child.
- Lock your car doors! This should be an obvious statement; however, many people fail to lock their car doors, leaving it easy for criminals to just open and take what is inside.
- Make sure you keep your valuables out of sight. This may be an iPad, tablet, wallet, or other item. Either bring them in the store with you, or put them in your glove box, under a seat or in a well-hidden area of your vehicle. No one wants to spend the holiday season waiting to get a window in their car replaced because you left a tablet sitting on your back seat.
- Make a mental note of where you parked your car, or even take a picture of where you parked with your phone, so it is easy to find when you are done shopping and you are not distracted and caught off guard while wandering around searching for your vehicle.
- When walking back to your car, check your surroundings. Look around your vehicle and underneath for any sign of suspicious persons or items. If you do not feel safe, ask a security guard to walk with you to your vehicle.
- Also, when walking back to your vehicle, have your keys ready. Do not give a criminal the opportunity to take advantage while you are fumbling for your car keys. Once you get in your car. Immediately lock your car doors.
- If you are shopping at night, make sure you park in a well-lit location. During the Holiday Season, many shopping centers and malls will add extra lighting and portable security stations in the form of cameras that they will place in their parking lots. If you are unable to find a parking spot close to the entrance, park near one of the portable security stations.
- If you are shopping at multiple stores, make sure you keep your store shopping bags out of plain site and preferably in the trunk of your vehicle.
- And finally, if you See Something, Say Something! So many of us are in a hurry, we have our own schedules and do not want to get involved – nor do we want to be blasted on the latest viral video as being a “Karen”. But there are many ways we can help each other this Holiday Season and not be a “Karen”. Simply put, we can look out for one another. If you see a mother or father shopping with children, keep an extra eye on them and alert them to any potential danger. If you see a woman or young adult shopping alone but you notice they are being followed by a stranger – alert them to any potential danger. See a person lurking around a parking lot, trying to open car doors, and looking into multiple car windows? Alert the store or shopping center security. Witness a crime? Report it to the authorities.
Following these simple steps can help all of us have a wonderful and safe shopping experience this Holiday Season!