Be safe while shopping during holidays

Published 5:02 pm Tuesday, December 17, 2013

While many of us already have our Christmas shopping done, there’s also no doubt that more than a few of us have been putting it off for the very last minute.

Being stressed and in a hurry while shopping can often lead to dangerous situations where criminals take advantage of those who aren’t paying attention. The Office of Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has offered a couple of tips to ensure that this holiday season is a safe one:

For those who shop in stores:

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• Never carry large amounts of cash.

• Only carry the credit cards you intend to use.

• Watch out for “shoulder surfers” while at the checkout. Shoulder surfers are people who stand behind customers and try to read their sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, while they are checking out at the cashier.

• Place packages in the trunk or out of sight while shopping.

• Never travel with a purse or wallet lying on your seat. It takes less than 10 seconds at a red light for someone to break your window and take your belongings.

• Always check the store’s return policy.

• Never talk to strangers that approach you in the parking lot. Identity thieves and scammers love to try and prey on innocent people away from the stores, and usually have a sob story to tell to try and distract you.

For those who shop online:

• Shop only from reputable online sites you know.

• Never respond to pop-up ads.

• If possible, use a credit card rather than a debit card. Consumers can dispute charges with a credit card company, but using a debit card can give scammers direct access to a consumer’s bank account.

• Make sure you know what shipping and processing fees you are paying.