Safety Watch Tip: Holiday Season Crime Prevention

Police departments across the US have ramped up staff to combat holiday crime this year. crime-prevention In lieu of the increase in crime during the holidays, it’s important to be aware and take precautions to protect yourself.

We’ve listed some tips below to help you avoid being a target for criminals during the holiday season — and what to do if you are a victim of a crime.

Tips to avoid being a target for crime:

  • In general, be aware of your surroundings. It is recommended for women to carry purses under their arms, and also for men to carry their wallets in a jacket or front pocket. Avoid carrying large sums of cash around with you.
  • If you’re out shopping, be sure to park in a well-lit area, and leave purchases in the trunk instead of a visible place in your car.
  • If you’re traveling, be sure to keep an eye on all of your belongings, and make sure loved ones know exactly where you are.
  • If you’re shopping online keep your money and identity safe online!
  • If you’re having packages delivered, try to have them delivered to your office or to a family member who will be home during the day.

Bonus tip: If you want to protect your money, avoid using a debit card during the holidays (and really any time of year). Debit cards do not have the same protections as credit cards. If a criminal gains access to your account — by stealing your information either online or somewhere you used your debit card — and empties your account, you’re pretty much out of luck and should consider that money gone. One way to minimize your risk is to check your bank and credit card statements daily. That way, if you see anything that looks funny or that you don’t recognize, you can report it immediately and minimize any further damage.

What to do if a package is stolen from your doorstep

  • First, be sure to look thoroughly around your door or garage to make sure the package isn’t somewhere nearby or hasn’t fallen behind some shrubs.
  • Call the shipping company. It could be that the package is late.
  • Call the police to report the theft. You’ll want to let them know that a theft has occurred.
  • Unfortunately, if the package isn’t insured, there generally isn’t a lot you can do. That’s a good reason to make sure your packages are sent with insurance, or follow these other steps to make sure someone will be around when the package is delivered.

What to do if you are a victim of identity theft

  • Contact all three credit bureaus and issue a fraud alert. Check your credit report six months later and look for items you don’t recognize.
  • Provide a copy of your driver’s license to each agency’s fraud unit in order to register an affidavit.
  • Contact the proper authorities in writing, via certified receipt request.
  • Inform your local police department, Social Security Administration and all creditors with whom you have accounts

Brandy Long,

EFC HOA Volunteer Lead – Neighborhood / Crime Watch