The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, but it is also a time for opportunists to take advantage of the crowds and money being spent.
It is important to stay vigilant to stay safe and keep our community safe. Report suspicious activity to the Upper Merion Township Police at 610-265-3232 and make sure to sign up for their CrimeWatch page. Upper Merion Department of Public Safety has compiled some tips to share this holiday season:
- Stay alert to your surroundings and the people around you.
- Shop with a friend; there is safety in numbers.
- Pay for purchases with check, credit or debit card.
- NEVER leave you purse hang over the back of your chair in a restaurant, keep it in front of you were no once can remove its contents.
- Do not carry a wallet in a back pocket. It should be in the front pocket of your pants.
- Thieves or robbers often look for “high value” shopping bags with your purchases. When possible, slip bags/purchases in a plain nondescript bag.
- Watch purchases when eating at mall food courts; bags can be easily switched or taken.
- Have your car keys in hand before leaving a store.
- If you do return to your vehicle to unload packages, place them in the trunk. If possible, move your car in case someone is watching.
- Park in a high visibility area with good lighting and ample pedestrian traffic.
- Avoid parking next to vehicles with dark tinted windows.
- Prior to arriving at a shopping center or mall, lock all valuables in the trunk of your vehicle.
- Walk briskly, confidently and directly through the parking lot. Be cautious of people handing out fliers or asking questions in the parking area.
- Carry only what you need. Extra cash, credit cards, checks, jewelry and other items should be left at home. If it is necessary to carry a purse, keep it in front and close to your body.
- Don’t be overburdened with packages. Carrying several shopping bags makes you look vulnerable. Request a store to hold your merchandise until you are finished with your shopping. If the store does not offer that service, place your purchases in the trunk of your car before you buy additional items.
- Lock your car. Most thefts from vehicles occur on vehicles that are left unlocked.
- Know who you are paying, via person to person payments, i.e., Zelle, Venmo, etc. Pay and receive money only with people you know.
- Have your package delivered to a location where someone can receive it in person. A neighbor or relative who is usually home, or if you have an understanding boss, to your workplace, are good alternatives.
- Encourage you neighbors to watch for deliveries and agree to secure each other’s packages. This includes being watchful for any stranger who is going onto porches for no apparent reason or following delivery trucks.
- Request the shipper to hold your package at their facility. Most offer this service.
- Track deliveries online. Many companies officer a text notification to your cell phone when a package has been delivered.
- Request a signature confirmation of delivery.
- Insure valuable items.
- Provide delivery instructions. If packages will be left while you are not home, try to have them left out of sight from the street.
- Shop on trustworthy websites. Check a seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction at bbb.org. And look for the “s” in https:// in the address box to ensure you’re shopping on a secure website.
- Beware of “too good to be true” deals. Beware of offers on websites and in unsolicited emails offering extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Don’t be afraid to pass up a “deal.”
- Beware of phishing. If you receive an email claiming problems with an order that asks for personal information or financial information, call the contact number on the website to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.
- Pay with a credit card. Under federal law, charges made on a credit card can be disputed if the item is never received. Many card issuers also have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.
- Do not pay for merchandise online or via the phone using a debit card. Debit cards are vulnerable because they are linked to a bank account.
- Do not provide your debit/credit card numbers over the phone, via emails or on websites unless you initiated the call or order.
- Do not use an ATM machine if you notice wires or a skimming device attached to where you insert your card. Also, cover the keypad with your hand, a hat or other piece of clothing when inputting pin numbers. Notify the bank or local police if you observe device(s) attached to the ATM.
Report suspicious activity to the Upper Merion Township Police at 610-265-3232 and make sure to sign up for their CrimeWatch page.