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Horry County Police Offer Holiday Safety Tips

On December 12, 2016 in Public Safety

Keeping yourself safe during the Holidays:

  • The first thing to understand is that there is no such thing as a “safe area.” You should be cautious and alert at all times, and always be aware of our surroundings. Make eye contact with everyone if possible, thieves avoid people who seem too alert and may have already noticed them. 
  •  If you start to have a bad feeling about your surroundings, stop and pay attention to these feelings, it is your intuition telling you not to proceed. 
  •  Go out with a companion. Thieves try to target people whom they perceive as more vulnerable: the elderly, women alone or women with children. 
  • Think about what attracts a criminal: wrapped gifts, flashy jewelry, a large purse that looks stuffed with goodies, smart phones, shopping bags, etc. Don’t leave these things sitting in your car where everyone can see them, place them in the trunk instead. 
  • Try to do all of your shopping at once and avoid making multiple trips to your car with merchandise. Always assume that someone is watching you. 
  • Be mindful of your purse while shopping. Do not leave it sitting in the shopping cart or place it on a counter; if you’re distracted even for only a few seconds, a criminal can take it or reach into it and grab a wallet, a phone. 
  • Avoid being engrossed in your smart phone or tablet. So many people keep their heads buried in a cell phones while walking in a parking lot or even crossing the street. 
  • Pay attention to where you park your car. Park in well lit, well used areas, and when returning to your car walk straight to it. Have your keys ready in your hand, and look around to make sure everything is ok before you unlock your car. 
  • If you exit a mall late at night, try to walk with others so you’re not alone in that environment. 
  • In crowded areas like a mall, be alert for pickpockets. Check yourself quickly if someone bumps into you because they may have picked your pocket or purse. 
  • If you are working late, walk out with a co-worker or call security and have them walk you to your car. 
  • Be attentive when walking or driving up to an ATM machine. Take note of who is in the area. Is there a car just parked nearby? Are there a lot of bushes where someone can hide and jump out at you? If you are not sure, just bypass it and go to a different ATM. The most you will lose is time and possibly gas, but at least you’ll be safe. 
  •  If you are robbed, do not stand your ground for the sake of your purse, wallet, or goods. Your safety is more important. 

Keeping your home safe during the Holidays:

  • Make sure you always lock your doors and windows, and keep your curtains or blinds closed. The more that people can see into your home, the more likely a thief will target your home. 
  • Trim hedges, bushes and trees around doors and windows. Be able to approach your door from the outside and be certain there is not an intruder waiting for you; 
  • Train kids to never open the door to strangers, only to family or friends who know the “password”. 
  • If you have an alarm system use it. 
  • If you like to put presents under the tree, try to put the tree where it cannot be seen from the front door.
  • If you feel you are being followed home, don’t pull into your driveway. Instead, keep driving and go to a well-lit or crowded location, police or fire station. 
  • Do not announce your activities and plans on social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook, this will give potential thieves a “heads up” that your house is available. 
  • Check ATMs for skimming devices—gas pumps are popular too—that can store or transmit credit information to a thief. 
  • Keep track of online orders. Find out when it is scheduled to be delivered and make sure someone is there to receive it so it is not sitting on the porch. You may choose to pick up expensive items at your nearest UPS, USPS, or FedEx facility instead by notifying that carrier accordingly. 

 

Keep your information safe during the Holidays:

Identity theft is another threat during the holiday season, with law enforcement seeing incidences of ID theft and fraud increase dramatically at this time of year. 

  • Reduce your chances of becoming victimized when shopping online by: 
  • Using only secured websites. Secured websites have a Web address beginning with “https.” 
  • Dedicating one credit card for online purchases—a low-balance one is best. 
  • Monitoring your account frequently to see whether or not you have been compromised. 
  • Not using a debit card linked to a checking account. 
  •  Not using your main ATM card that you have to live off of. If fraudulent activity is discovered, the bank can freeze your money for a week or more. 
  •  Do not use free public Wi-Fi? It is really easy for hackers to eavesdrop on your connection and steal your information. 
  • Do not click on email offers or promo codes. Instead, go directly to the retailer’s website. Even the most legitimate-looking email could be from hackers’ phishing for account info. 
  • If you need to create an account with an online retailer, do not use the same email address and password you use anywhere else. This is such old advice it may seem obvious, but many attacks are still successful because people reuse the same combination of email address and password in multiple sites, and attackers know it. It’s not worth the risk. 
  • Use apps, not your phone’s web browser. Apps for sites like Amazon and Wayfair usually have an extra layer of security and encryption, making them safer to use when you’re out in public. 
  • Never save your credit card information in retail sites and web browsers. If they haven't stored it, it can't be stolen from them. Retail data breaches have led to the compromise of millions of credit cards. 
  • Use mobile payment technologies, like Android Pay and Apple Pay. They cannot be cloned like traditional magnetic stripe cards. 
  • Most importantly, set your phone to require a PIN or fingerprint to access it!



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