While you’re out looking for deals this holiday shopping season, criminals may have their eyes on you.
The 2016 holiday shopping season officially begins Friday, November 25, also known as Black Friday. It’s a busy time for not just retailers and shoppers, but also thieves.
Collier County Sheriff ’s Office deputies will be in and around area shopping districts throughout the holiday season. They’ll be patrolling on foot, in cars and on horseback. They’ll also be using the agency’s Skywatch Sentinel to help keep vigil over various shopping center parking lots to keep shoppers safe.
Deputies will be out reminding store managers to adjust parking lot lighting if they’re planning to offer extended hours of nighttime shopping.
CCSO is also reminding the community to follow these holiday shopping tips:
- Shop during daylight hours when possible. If shopping at night, take a friend or family member and park in a well-lit area.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
- Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible. They are prime targets in crowded areas. Keep cash in your front pocket.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of money.
- Be alert to your surroundings.
- Locate your keys and have them in your hand before you arrive at your car.
- Keep your windows and doors locked.
- If you have an alarm system, use it.
- When leaving home for an extended time, have a neighbor or family member watch your house and pick up newspapers and mail.
- Set an automatic timer for interior and exterior lights if you will be away from home.
- Leave a radio or television on so the house looks and sounds occupied.
- Call the Sheriff ’s Office and set up an extra protection while you are out of town.
- Schedule a free home security survey by calling CCSO’s Crime Prevention Bureau at 239.252.0700, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Lock your vehicle when you leave it.
- If you have an alarm system on your vehicle, use it.
- Park in a high visibility area with good lighting.
- Remove valuables from your vehicle as soon as you reach your destination.
ONLINE AND SAFE IDENTITY
- Never give out your Social Security number! Reputable online merchants should never require you to to submit your Social Security number.
- Only shop using secure websites. Most websites will have a pop up screen indicating that they have a security certificate, a “lock” should also appear in the bottom corner of your browser window. Use only reputable websites that you are familiar with. If you are in doubt, don’t order.
- Check out the merchant’s privacy and security policies. Some merchants ask for personal information to sell to other merchants, direct marketers, and even telemarketers. Read their online privacy and security polices so that you know where your information is going. Some merchants will allow you to opt out of giving this information.
- Use the same credit card when making all online purchases. If you use only one credit card for all your online purchases it will make it easier for you to track them and identify any fraudulent transactions. • Use companies you know.
- When making purchases online, make sure the website you are using is secured with “https://www…” in the URL and make certain the padlock symbol is on the bottom of your browser.
- Read the company’s privacy statement carefully. Will they sell your personal information to other companies?
- Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, then it probably isn’t.
- Limit the amount of personal information you give out and print all online receipts.
- Consider obtaining a credit card that you use only when shopping online to easily keep track of all your purchases.
- If possible, call in your order.
- Notify the issuer if your credit card is lost or stolen. That flat-screen TV and iPhone you received are great, but remember they were meant for you and not some thief. Your holiday won’t be a happy one if you become the victim of a crime.
CSO OFFERS THESE TIPS TO KEEP YOUR HOLIDAY GIFTS SECURE:
- As soon as you receive that special gift, mark it with your driver’s license number. If it cannot be marked, take color pictures or video. And record the serial number and put it away for safe keeping. • Consider putting valuable gifts such as jewelry on layaway and leaving them in the store until just before Christmas.
- Be careful about discussing any valuable gifts you received with strangers.
- Be careful about the after-Christmas garbage you put out for pickup. Put smaller waste in a black trash bag and break down all the bigger boxes and turn them inside out so the labels cannot be seen.
- Do not leave opened valuable gifts under the tree, especially if the tree is in front of a window where they can be easily seen from the outside.
For more holiday shopping safety information, visit the Collier County Sheriff ’s Office website at www.colliersheriff.org, or visit the CCSO YouTube channel to watch one of the agency’s holiday safety videos.