With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just days away, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office reminds you to make this shopping season a safe one by following these common sense security tips:
IN STORE SHOPPING
1. Be aware of your surroundings. In all the excitement of bargain hunting make sure you remain vigilant while entering and exiting your vehicle as you come and go through busy parking lots, particularly during nighttime hours. Always take time to look around for suspicious activity, such as strangers loitering in the area or cars cruising the lanes, and if you do not feel comfortable in your environment, do not hesitate to leave or have a security guard walk you out.
2. Protect your belongings. Ladies, if you don’t leave your purse at home, you should carry it close to your body and limit what you have in it. If possible, only bring your ID, cash and/or one credit card with you. Don’t flash your cash as that attracts unwanted attention, as do a lot of shopping bags.
3. Prepare a safety plan for children. If possible leave little ones at home, but if they must come with you have a plan in place in case you get separated. Teach them to look for someone who can help them such as law enforcement officers, store security or store personnel. Supervision is imperative as sexual predators use the hustle and bustle of shopping to distract or entice children.
1. Never use your debit card when shopping online. If your debit card number falls into the wrong hands, your cash could be wiped out in seconds. Instead, use a credit card to avoid this potential disaster.
2. Avoid purchasing goods on fraudulent websites. Hundreds of fake websites offering fraudulent products can be found online while searching for legitimate sites. If a deal looks too good to be true, do your research before making your purchase. When in doubt, exit out.
3. Make sure you are buying from a secure site. Look for the address bar to turn green, the web address to begin with “https” or the locked padlock symbol.
4. Use a different password at every site. Yes, it’s extra work but will keep hackers from gaining access to all of your accounts, including your bank account, should your password be compromised.
Shop smart. Shop safe. Shop wisely.