The holiday shopping season is almost upon us. Whether you’re planning to hit the stores for Black Friday shopping deals or shop online during Cyber Monday, you’ll want to keep in mind these holiday shopping safety tips!

SHOPPING IN A STORE?

Holiday shopping safety tips...know what precautions to take when shopping at the mall or in stores.

Keep your wallet close. An inside coat pocket or your front pants pocket is perfect. If you’re using a purse, keep it closed tight and hold it close to your body.

Shop (and drive there) with a friend. There is always safety in numbers. If you need to shop alone, don’t wait until the store closes to leave. You want to make sure there are others in the parking lot when you leave.  

Consider using only one credit card for your holiday shopping. Leave your other credit cards at home. That way if you lose your wallet, you only lose that particular credit card. Not only that but should there be a credit breach, you won’t have to deal with multiple cards compromised.

Be aware of ATM skimmers. Get your cash ahead of time if at all possible, and use an ATM in a secure location where there is more monitoring. Theft via ATM skimmers has become a serious issue. If something doesn’t look quite right, don’t use the ATM machine. Additionally, cover the keypad as you are entering your PIN so the camera can’t record it. Thieves need your PIN as well, and they can get that information from the camera.

Park your vehicle in an area that is well lit. Don’t park next to a big truck or van, where your view of your vehicle could be obscured. If your view is obscured, then others won’t be able to see your vehicle either.

Have your key ready before you get to your car. When you head into the parking lot, have your key out and ready to unlock your vehicle. You don’t want to be fumbling to find your key in the parking lot. Those that are distracted are easier targets.

Put away your phone while you are walking to your car. If you’re on your phone, you’re less aware of your surroundings. This is important for your personal safety as well as avoiding theft. The person not paying attention is a far easier target for a potential burglar or attacker.

Look around and even under your vehicle as you approach it. Thieves have been known to hide under cars as well. It’s better to be aware than to be caught off guard. Don’t forget to lock your doors as soon as you enter the car as well!

Store shopping bags out of sight. If you have a lot of shopping bags and need to bring them out to your car partway through your shopping trip, store them in your trunk (or out of sight). Look around your vehicle. If you see anything around you that makes you uncomfortable (like someone watching you, or just sitting in their car nearby), move your car to another location. If you’re leaving one store location and moving on to another, put your shopping bags in the trunk before you go to the next location. That way no one at the next location is aware that there are shopping bags in your car.

SHOPPING ONLINE?

Holiday shopping safety tips: precautions to take when shopping online over the holidays.

Shop with secure sites.  Only buy from retailers you are familiar with, and make sure they have an https and a lock icon in the URL field. The “s” on the end of the http means the site is more secure.

Be cautious when shopping online. Check online reviews of products and vendors before making your buying decisions. Read the terms and conditions as well. It’s important to know a company’s policies in case something is broken or needs to be returned. 

Don’t shop while using public WiFi. If you feel compelled to shop in public places, set up a VPN, or virtual private network. This is the best way to keep your information secure and private, and yes, it is necessary.

Use different passwords for each of your accounts. Use upper case, lower case, special characters and numbers when creating your passwords. While having multiple passwords is more difficult to remember, it also makes it more difficult to hack your accounts. If you have a hard time remembering your passwords, use a password manager.

Foil “porch pirates.” Porch pirates are thieves that steal the packages right off your porch. These days you have a lot of options. You can choose to have your packages shipped to a neighbor that is home during the day or to your work or require a signature when packages are being delivered. But did you also know you can sign up for UPS My Choice, which allows you reroute or reschedule your package deliveries, get estimated and confirmed delivery windows, receive delivery alerts, and leave driver instructions? FedEx Delivery Manager offers similar features. Another option, if you’re comfortable with a stranger unlocking your door or garage and putting your package inside, is Amazon Key. They can deliver to your car as well!

Thieves are out in full force during the holiday shopping season. We hope that these holiday shopping safety tips will help keep you and your purchases safe!

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Nicholas / Tobin Insurance, located in New Milford, Connecticut, provides its clients the highest quality insurance products and services available today to protect them, their families, and businesses. We offer homeowners insurance, renters insurance, car insurance, business insurance, travel insurance and more! Our commitment to service means our team of licensed insurance professionals is here to help with simple policy questions, consult with you to determine appropriate coverage and be available 24/7 when trouble strikes and you need assistance managing through the claim process.

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