It's that time of year again, when customers flood the area's shopping centers for holiday gift buying. Unfortunately, so do plenty of grinches. Experts offer tips to keep you safe and free of crime during this holiday season.
• Stay alert to your surroundings. Do not overburden yourself with packages, making it easy for someone to snatch one.
• Keep your purchases out of sight in the trunk of your car - not in the passenger cabin.
• Ladies, carry your handbag close to you, rather than dangling off your arms or in your hands. Gentlemen, put your wallet in your front pocket or in a coat pocket, where it is harder for a pickpocket to reach.
• Stick to credit and debit cards or checks. If you must carry cash, stick to small amounts, and again, not in the back pocket.
• In case you do lose your wallet or purse, make sure you have your credit card information stored somewhere safe at home. Report stolen plastic immediately.
• If you bring along children, teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated.
• For online purchases, shop with companies you know. If you want to check a company's complaint history, visit www.bbb.org.
• Pay only with credit cards. Don't comply with requests that you wire money or send a check.
• Use only websites that indicate some level of security, like a padlock symbol, and use a secure browser.
Save all information about your transactions, such as e-mails and online receipts.
- Kim Minugh