December - Holiday Shopping

Purpose
The holiday season can be an exciting and emotionally satisfying time as we think about spending time with family and friends. We anticipate the adventures of shopping at our favorite retail stores, and preparing for wonderful holiday meals at home or at a preferred restaurant. It only takes a moment for our holiday spirit to be saddened if we find that we have become a victim to a theft or fraud. By being proactive and taking some simple steps to protect ourselves, we can help ensure that our holiday season is a safe and memorable one.

Shopping
When traveling to the mall or favorite retail store, prepare in advance and have a plan. Be aware of where you park. Make sure other people can see your vehicle and do not park behind obstacles. Do not leave valuable items inside the vehicle where they are visible to an opportunistic criminal. Keep the vehicle locked when it is unattended. When you are inside the stores we suggest the following:
  • Carry the minimal amount of cash and credit cards that you will need. Do not be seen flashing a large sum of cash. Do not carry a Social Security Card or Birth Certificate. Leave those at home.
  • Keep your purse with you at all times. Be careful how you carry the purse. You should not leave it in a shopping cart if you have a tendency to walk away from the cart while shopping.
  • Shop with a partner whenever possible. You can watch out for each other that way.
  • If your wallet or purse is lost or stolen, report it immediately to police, your credit card company(s), and the 3 major credit reporting bureaus.
  • Do not overload yourself with too many packages and personal possessions.
  • Shop during daylight hours when possible, especially if you must shop by yourself.
  • Dress comfortably and avoid wearing expensive jewelry. Do not draw attention to yourself.
  • After conducting a transaction, be sure to account for your purchase, and properly secure, your credit cards, cash, and receipts on your person.
  • When you are leaving the store and nearing your vehicle, have your keys ready to make a smooth transition there. Do not be seen fumbling through your possessions and appearing unorganized and vulnerable.
  • Project poise and confidence. Hopefully other will perceive that you have good situational awareness and that you are therefore a harder target.
  • To prevent a smash-and-grab to your vehicle, do not leave purses or packages inside a vehicle for other to see. Secure those items in a trunk and out of view.
E-Commerce Shopping
There is a greater demand every year for shopping online. The choices, convenience, and our busy lives all lead to a natural transition to online shopping. Consider these E-Commerce crime prevention tips when making your next purchase:
  • Research the seller and product before making an online purchase.
  • Read product reviews, forums, and blogs to make informed decisions about your purchase.
  • Do not judge a company or person solely on the website's "personality".
  • Read the fine print and understand purchase agreements.
  • Verify the security of the payment process before entering credit card information.
  • Be especially cautious when buying from a foreign retailer or from someone overseas.
  • Know what happens if purchases are not received, or if they arrive wrong or damaged.
  • Know the answer to this.... Can or how do you return unwanted merchandise?
  • If you use a password, choose 1 that cannot easily be guessed, and keep it safe.
  • Keep all correspondence and purchase confirmations in case there is a problem later.
  • Consider using 1 designated credit card for all of your online purchases. This will allow you to track purchases easier, and help with issues that may arise if your information is compromised.
  • Use common sense and keep your guard up. Remember that if a deal looks too-good-to-be-true, it probably is. Take your time and have a pleasant experience.
Holiday Frauds
Many holiday frauds begin on the internet through email, or over the phone. People claim to be associated with a charity, a bank or credit card company, or lottery official, just to name a few. Many of these contacts appear to be very official and professional. Confirm these contacts before providing personal information. Consider contacting your bank or credit card company on your own to make sure you are speaking with the correct organization. Your bank will probably tell you that they would never contact you and ask for your social security number through email or the over phone.

Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud can increase this time of year and it takes some effort on your part to minimize your risk. Keep track of your credit card use and monitor your account activity. Monitor your banking and credit card statements carefully and often, and report suspicious activity immediately. Never share your password or pass code, and never write it down on something you are carrying.

Gift Shopping Online
If you shop for gift items online, please take a few moments to view our E-Commerce Crime Prevention Tips (PDF) bulletin.

Charity Fraud
If you are donating to a charity, research the charity carefully. Do not feel pressured to act right away. Many so-called charities can be totally fraudulent, while other charities will receive only a very small portion of the money that is collected by a "professional fundraiser". We suggest that you avoid panhandlers.

Contact Us
The Lafayette Police Department hopes that you have a happy and safe Holiday Season. Please report any crime or suspicious activity by calling the Lafayette Police Department at 765-807-1200.