It’s time to talk about safety during the holidays
Regardless if you are arriving at the mall, leaving the grocery store or restaurant, you are going to find yourself in the parking lot. How we approach and depart the business can help keep us safe from harm. The following tips are important to keep you and your passengers safe:
PARKING LOT SAFETY
- Avoid driving alone or at night. When possible, shop with family or friends as there is safety in numbers.
- If shopping at night, look for well-lighted areas to park.
- Park as close to the business as you can to limit exposure to criminals.
- If traveling from store to store, make sure packages and other valuables are secured in the trunk when possible and not in open view.
- When leaving the store, ask security or management to walk out with you.
- Never carry packages that obstruct your view or make you unable to defend yourself if necessary.
- Once in your vehicle, immediately leave the parking lot so you are not a sitting target for criminals.
- Have cell phones and car keys immediately accessible in case of an emergency.
- Make sure that when patronizing an ATM, no one is following you. Criminals will watch the ATM and then rob you in an isolated area or when arriving home.
Once inside the store, we need to shift our prevention focus to not becoming the victim of credit card fraud or other types of scams. The following ideas will help protect you against having your credit compromised or having money taken from you through a scam or larceny.
- Have a list of your credit card numbers safely secured at your residence in case you have your wallet, purse or credit cards stolen. The list will aid you when canceling the cards or supplying information to law enforcement.
- Never allow a waiter or customer service representative to walk away with your credit card where it can be secretly skimmed. When dining out, ask the server if you can pay at the cash register instead of allowing your credit card to leave your sight.
- If your credit card is equipped with RFID chips, keep the credit card in a protective sleeve designed to prevent it from being cloned.
- When writing checks, never leave your checkbook on the counter where others can see the routing numbers at the bottom. Always protect your checks and credit cards against someone shoulder surfing.
- When completing instant credit applications, ask the customer service representative what measures they use to protect your identity from being compromised.
- Beware of strangers approaching you or asking for money. Also be careful of the various scams that criminals use during the holiday season.
- When shopping online, only shop with secure sites that offer increased protection for the consumer. Look for the padlock logo at the bottom of the screen.
- Beware of too good to be true online bargains and sales that are with companies you are unfamiliar with.
- Consider having an identity theft protection service that can notify you if someone is trying to establish a line of credit in your name.
SHOPPING WITH CHILDREN
As we are all aware, this time of the year is fast paced and brings large volumes of shoppers to the malls and retail stores. Please keep the following measures in mind as you and your children patronize the various stores in our community:
- Always pre-arrange a safety plan with your children if separated. Never assume they will know what to do. Establish a central meeting place that everyone knows is a safe zone.
- Teach small children the importance of asking store security or law enforcement for help.
- If possible, leave small children at home in a safe environment with a trusted sitter.
- Never allow children to leave your sight even to go to the restroom alone.
- Make sure children have your cell number in case they are separated. They can give your number to security and always make sure your ringer is turned on.
- Never leave children unattended in the car so they can play video games or do other activities.
- Never leave children alone in the food court or arcade area.
- Teach children the importance of staying by your side when shopping.
- Make sure that when leaving the business, all kids walk safely through the parking lot and are not running in between cars or out of sight.
Hopefully, the above safety tips will help keep you, your children and your possessions safe during the holiday season.
From all of us at the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season.