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Holiday Gifts & Lifestyle

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Stay safe this holiday season

The holiday season is an exciting time of year, and it is easy to get swept up in the decorations, crowds and social engagements. Despite the joviality and revelry of the holiday season, there is also the potential to become a target of theft. Allstate Insurance says break-ins, package theft, online hacking, and pick-pocketing incidences increase around this time of year. As a result, it's imperative that celebrants exercise caution come the holiday season.

Stop the "porch pirates"
Shoppers are not the only ones eagerly awaiting the arrival of packages come the holiday season. Thieves are ready and waiting to snatch up items once they are delivered. Dubbed "porch pirates," these criminals take packages off of porches when the delivery services leave them behind. According to a study by Blink, a video security company, residents of rural areas have a higher chance of being victimized by these crimes, which can occur anywhere. A 2016 survey from found that roughly one in 10 adults has had a package stolen from his or her home before they were able to open it.

To avoid such crimes, consider having packages sent to a business location where there are more people around to receive them or to a neighbor who is home all day. Other suggestions include requiring a signature through the shipping service upon deliver or requesting the package be dropped off in a concealed area.

Be alert of your surroundings
While shopping in busy stores, keep track of the people close to you. Consider keeping credit cards and cash in an inside pocket rather than a back pocket or in a purse, which is more easily snatched. Exercise caution at ATM machines, guarding PIN codes and retrieving and storing withdrawn funds quickly. When checking out at the store, ensure that your card never leaves your hand. Many retailers now have chip-embedded card readers that enable customers to complete transactions without handing over their cards.

Check receipts and statements
Because digital theft and identity theft spike this time of year, be sure to cross-reference purchases made against banking and credit card statements frequently. Alert banking institutions to any fraudulent purchases immediately so you will not be responsible. Then have new cards issued and prior accounts closed. Shop from secured sites, and only use secure WiFi connections.

Keep gifts and purchases out of sight
Do not leave bags in the back seat of a car in plain sight of thieves. Hide purchases in the trunk or under a cargo cover in an SUV or truck. Also, do not advertise what you've bought or received to thieves by leaving the empty boxes outside. That big-screen TV box is a big giveaway that you now have expensive electronics in the house.

Shoppers must be vigilant during the holiday season to avoid being victimized by thieves. GG189270

Monte Vista Journal