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Officials stress safety for holiday shopping

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Authorities are urging shoppers to keep safety in mind during the holiday season.

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Nash County authorities encourage residents to keep a wary eye out while holiday shopping.

Shoppers should never neglect their safety, said Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone.

“The holiday season is right around the corner and shoppers are starting to crowd malls and discount stores to buy the latest gadgets and find the best deals,” Stone said. “This time of year attracts more shopping-related criminal activity because of the larger crowds and the extended store hours. These factors and the usual distraction of shopping creates a more favorable environment for petty thieves and other offenders.”

The Sheriff's Office offers several safe shopping tips to keep in mind not only during the holiday season, but every day.

“Hopefully, these suggestions will not only prevent our citizens experiencing fraud or becoming a victim of a crime, but allow them to be safe as they shop for family, friends and loved ones,” Stone said.

A single shopper is the best target for theft. Always shop with a friend or relative. When going shopping, tell someone where you're going and what time to expect your return. Also, make sure they know what you are wearing, as well as the type of vehicle you are driving.

Shop during daylight hours. If you shop at night, park your vehicle in a well-lit area. Dress casually and comfortably and avoid wearing expensive jewelry. If carrying cash, keep it in your front pocket rather than in a purse or wallet. This makes it much more difficult for a pick-pocket to steal your money. Also store car keys in a pants or jacket pocket. If your purse is stolen, you will still be able to drive home.

Pay careful attention to your surroundings and avoid overloading yourself with packages. It's important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.

When returning to your vehicle, check around it and in the back seat. Be aware of strangers approaching you for any reason. Have your car keys in your hand to avoid spending unnecessary time looking for your keys while unprotected from the security of your vehicle.

If you feel uneasy returning to your vehicle alone, find a security guard and ask them to walk you to your car.

Personal safety isn't the only concern — financial card theft is a growing problem. So keep a close watch on your credit card every time you use it, and make sure you get it back as quickly as possible.

Never write your PIN number on your debit card. Never leave your credit cards or receipts lying around.

Shield your credit card number so that others around you can’t copy it or capture it on a mobile telephone or other camera. Only carry credit cards that you absolutely need. Shred anything with your credit card number written on it.

If you’re planning to purchase online, make sure the web page where you enter your credit card information is secure through Secure Socket Layer. You can tell if the web page is secure by looking for the gold lock or key icon at the bottom corner of your browser window.

If you’re not comfortable submitting your information via the internet, call the seller and give them your information over the telephone. Never send your credit card information via email.

Check out the company. Only do business with companies that provide a physical address and telephone number. Keep good records. Always print out a copy of any online products or services you purchase.

Never buy gift cards from online auction sites. This is a large source of gift card fraud. Many of the gift cards are stolen, counterfeit or used.

Only buy gift cards directly from the store issuing the gift card or from a secure retailer’s website. Don’t buy gift cards from publicly displayed racks in retail stores. Only purchase gift cards at the sales terminal from the cashier.

Always carefully examine both the front and back of a gift card before you buy it. If you see a PIN number, ask for a different card. If the card looks like it has been tampered with in any way, put it back.

Always ask the store cashier to scan the gift card in front of you. This will guarantee that your card is valid when you buy it and that it reflects the balance you just charged it with. Always keep receipts as proof of purchase as long as there is money stored on the gift card. If possible, register gift cards at the store’s website.

Never give your Social Security number, date of birth or any other unneeded private information when purchasing a gift card. No reputable company will ask for this information.

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