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Stay safe while holiday shopping

The rush for holiday shopping has officially begun. It is a shorter shopping season this year for those who have waited until after Thanksgiving to begin their gift buying.

The constant running that surrounds the holiday season means shoppers need to practice common sense and have an awareness of their surroundings in order to make sure they have a safe experience.

Thieves look for the opportunities the season brings. They know store security and police are busy keeping track of people who might be trying to shoplift or work some other scam. They prey on the easy targets, who are tired from going from store to store.

Here are a few things to keep in mind so you don’t become a victim.

One of the most basic safe holiday shopping tips is to avoid carrying large sums of cash. Don’t carry a wallet or purse. If you do have to carry cash, distribute the amount among several different pockets. Better yet, pay with a credit card.

Keep receipts separate from bags of gifts. Receipts can sometimes contain account information that can be used in identity theft.

Shop in a group. There always is safety in numbers. Also, try to leave the mall or store with a group of people, especially when it is dark. Try to do shopping during the day, if possible, and shop at locations you are familiar with. Always avoid dark hallways or corners, and always carry your cell phone and make sure it is turned on.

Thieves also target vehicles loaded with holiday gifts. With that in mind, keep gifts in the trunk, and make sure all of the doors are locked. Don’t store valuable gifts in the backseat in plain view. Have your keys or fob in hand and ready to use when approaching your vehicle. Nearly every key fob has a panic button that will sound the horn of your car and flash the lights.

Don’t laden yourself with an armful of packages, and make sure you park in well-lit areas and as close to the store as possible.

Local police and sheriff’s departments will be watching shopping areas in the coming weeks in an effort to make the shopping experience as safe as possible.

Safe shopping online also is important. You can change your passwords often, and only shop at websites you trust.

Consider having packages shipped to work if possible or have a neighbor immediately get the package after delivery. Porch pirates are always looking for packages left alone.

The holiday season is about sharing presents. Make sure you don’t give a thief an easy gift.

Be safe, smart and aware of your surroundings while shopping.

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