Statistics show that crimes go up around the holidays. With more idle time, drinking and stress, crimes like burglary, car theft, purse snatching and online scams increase. And although nobody wants to come across as all “bah-humbug,” you should take steps to protect your personal and financial properties.
If you’re staying home for the holidays …
Track your packages, lock your doors, be aware of your surroundings. Criminals know people are often out and about during the holiday months. While you are hitting the stores and holiday parties, remember to lock up the house, turn on the alarm system and leave on a light. Consider hiding your presents until they are ready to be distributed. An empty house with presents collected under the tree make for an easy “smash and grab.”
If you’re shopping online sites, consider having packages shipped to your office, or be home for delivery day. Last year, one-third of Americans reported they had a package stolen from their doorstep. It’s easy pickings for criminals, and as the online shopping trend grows, this crime statistic is only expected to rise.
Scam shopping sites and charities prey on holiday shoppers, so vet any online sites before giving freely. Give charitably, but be smart. Whether you are looking to make a final year-end tax-deduction, or simply want to help a cause close to your heart, ensure you are giving to legit organizations. Look for “https” security sites online, so when you’re entering your credit card details, your information is protected.
Also, be sure to review your credit card and bank statements closely. Watch out for unusual charges that could be an indication that one of your cards has been compromised. The sooner you can halt identity theft or stolen cards, the better.
Finally, park your car in well-lit areas. Don’t walk alone. While out shopping, don’t be on your cellphone as you walk back to your vehicle. Be aware and be safe.
If you’re travelling for the holidays …
Some of the same tips apply, but take extra precautions if you’ll be away from your home for a few days. Have a neighbor check on your house. Invest in an alarm system. Remember to stop the mail, the newspaper and any deliveries.
Additionally, contact your credit card issuers to let them know you will be travelling and perhaps making charges from different locations. Don’t travel with all of your cards in the event you lose your wallet. Just carry the basics, and know how to contact your bank if something goes missing.
While it’s scary to think about the bad guys especially during the holiday months, a little planning and prep can keep you protected and enjoying the season.