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How To Practice Safe Shopping This Holiday Season

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While about 89 million shoppers hunt for deals this Black Friday and Cyber Monday, criminals are also looking to score big.

Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Art Forgey shared ways to prevent from anyone stealing some holiday joy.

Don’t leave purchased items in sight after shopping.

“We tend to see an increase of car burglary at this time of the year,” Forgey said, “and that’s simply because people leave things of value in plain sight in their vehicles.”

After accruing new items, discretely minimizing and discarding boxes may keep thieves’ eyes off a resident’s curb while driving by.

“We see large boxes from everything from purchase of TVs to children toys, and a lot of people will stick those out in the trash — maybe even set them alongside the curb for a day or two before the trash comes,” he said. “All you’re doing with that is advertising what you got in your home to a would be burglar that would be driving by.”

For online shopping, use a credit card rather than a debit card.

“Should your account be compromised, you can dispute those charges and only be responsible for up to $50 on that credit card,” he said.

With debit cards, payments are made directly to the store from an account at the time of transaction. Depending on when fraudulent use is reported, a shopper could be liable for up to $500.

Check online security before making purchases.

“Make sure that network is secured and anytime you’re shopping, look for that little padlock to make sure it is a secure site,” Forgey said.

Keep wallets in the front pant pockets, not the back ones. To discourage pickpockets, don’t carry an overload of shopping bags.

Parents should have a plan in advance with their children in case they become separated in a large, crowded mall. In case of an emergency, teach kids to go to a store clerk or security guard to ask for help.

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