General Shopping Safety Tips
The most frequent crimes committed in and around shopping malls at this time and throughout the year are credit card theft, credit card fraud, theft of vehicles and theft from vehicles. Below are just a few suggestions for keeping yourself, your gifts, and your money safe during the holiday shopping season.
1. Do not put packages into your car (trunk or back seat) and then return to the mall. One of the most common criminal ploys is to wander around a parking lot as though looking for one's car. In reality, that poor lost shopper may actually be a criminal waiting to see someone place packages in their car. Put excess bags in a locker, use a cart, or ask stores to hold packages until you are ready to leave.
2. Keep packages hidden in the trunk when you go from one store to the next. Bags in the back seat can be like candy to a baby for a criminal - irresistible.
3. Lock your doors, even if leaving for only a moment. Use a security device (such as a steering wheel lock or alarm) if you have one. Car thieves are criminals of opportunity; they take the cars that are easiest to steal.
4. Do not throw away credit card receipts. They can be stolen and your number lifted.
5. Do not leave your purse or your jacket with the wallet in the pocket unattended for even a moment. Do not put them in a cart, on the back of a chair while eating or on a dressing room hook, where they can be easily stolen. Keep wallets in your pant pocket, and put your purse between your feet on the floor or on your lap. Hang your belongings on a back wall hook when in a dressing room.
6. Do not ever leave your purse open, where a pickpocket can easily reach in and steal your wallet.
7. Do not have your arms completely filled when going to your car, especially if it is late, dark, and few people are around. You should have one hand free. Pull your car up to the entrance to load your bags if you have too much to carry.
Shopping Safe With Your Child
Shopping carts: Take a wet wipe with you each time you shop, and wipe down the shopping cart handle (and all around the edges of the cart where your children are likely to place hands or mouths) before anyone touches it.
Don't allow your children to stand up in the shopping cart, to climb up the side of it, or to run with it through the parking lot. Make sure all small children are securely buckled in at all times. A fall from a cart can cause a serious injury. Never leave your child alone in a cart, even for a moment. It only takes a moment for a stranger to disappear with your child or for your child to fall out.
In the parking lot: Watch out for small children behind and in front of large vehicles. Take an extra moment to make sure that no small children are lagging behind their family members just as you are backing up your vehicle or preparing to go forward. Never leave your children alone on the parking lot, never leave them in a running vehicle by themselves, never leave them in the car on a warm day, and never let them run through the parking lot. Keep your children right beside you at all times in parking lots.
Clothing racks (and dangerous stacks of merchandise): Don't allow children to play underneath clothing racks, either the round ones in the middle of the store, or the ones fastened to a wall or divider. Should the rack suddenly topple or come loose, the weight of the clothing could cause a serious injury or death.
Store bathrooms, water fountains, and pay phones: In store bathrooms, always make sure toilet seats are clean before sitting down. Don't allow your children to push paper towel into the garbage cans; some children have been injured by something sharp or
potentially dangerous (such as a needle) hiding in the paper. If you stumble across waste or blood in the bathroom, do not allow the child to touch any of it (wash the child's hands with soap and warm water immediately!). Make it a rule that everyone's hands (yours, too!) are washed thoroughly with soap before leaving the bathroom, whether you've had to use the toilet or not.
Do not let your children put their mouths directly on water fountains while taking a drink. Bacteria can survive on metal for several minutes. Avoid checking pay telephones for change, and don't allow your child to do it, either. Cases have been reported of needles being left in the change slot.
Leaving your child: A good policy is to just never leave your child alone, even for a few minutes. Never leave your child in one part of the store while you shop in another. And don't expect any child younger than baby-sitting age to properly watch your young children for you. It only takes a moment for a professional kidnapper to walk off with your child forever, or for your child to get into something that's dangerous. A 9-year-old who can watch the baby in the playpen at home simply isn't old enough to handle an attempted abduction, a choking baby, or a locked car door.
Credit Card Safety
Check to see you've been given back your card once you've paid for what you bought.
You've got to be smart if you shop by phone. Get the facts. Make sure the guy on the phone is legitimate. And if you have a question, ask before giving your credit card number to anyone.
Watch your credit card slip being filled out, and make sure it's not passed through the machine more than once. Ask for your carbons.
Destroy the carbons, but keep your credit card receipts and check them against monthly bills.
Destroy every credit card that's out of date. Cut it in half. Throw it away. Get rid of it.
Make a list of your major credit cards, their account numbers and the phone numbers to call if cards are lost.
If you get ripped off, or just lose track of any credit card, call your bank fast.
If you can select your own Personal Identification Number (PIN) to access an automated teller machine, stay away from your date of birth, social security number or address. If you lose your wallet with your card in it, these are the first ones a criminal would try. Use something personal, like an old address or a friend's birthday that you can remember easily and doesn't appear on any credit cards you carry. Don't write your PIN on the bank card or on a slip of paper in your wallet.
Online Shopping Tips
Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel comfortable buying or bidding on an item over the web, or if you feel pressured to place your order immediately, maybe you shouldn’t.