Farmington Hills, Michigan

HomeMichiganFarmington Hills

Email Mark Bello Mark Bello on LinkedIn Mark Bello on Twitter Mark Bello on Facebook Mark Bello on Avvo
Mark Bello
Mark Bello
Attorney • (877) 377-7848

Shoppers Be Vigilant Whether Making In-Store or Online Purchases

Comments Off

Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the beginning of holiday shopping season — time to search for the perfect gifts and a great deal. It is also a time when busy people become careless and vulnerable to theft and other holiday crimes.

Each year, retailers open their doors to shoppers while many families are still eating Thanksgiving dinner. Online shopping often begins before the turkey is even stuffed. Whether you join the crowded malls or shop online in the comfort of your home, there are a few prevention measures to help keep your holiday season joyous.

Venturing to the mall and shopping centers

  • Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, avoid going alone.
  • Stay alert to your surroundings in the mall and parking lots.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
  • Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible. Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused.
  • Be extra careful if you carry a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas. Carry your purse close to your body, with your wallet in the front pocket or zippered.
  • Avoid overloading yourself with packages.
  • Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. Criminals may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
  • When withdrawing cash from an ATM, be mindful of who is around you; “shoulder surfers” can get your PIN number and gain access to your account. Make sure the area is well-lit. Watch for any unusual “add-on” devices at the ATM. Crooks use skimming devices to steal account information.
  • Keep valuables — purses, wallets, mobile phones — out of sight when stored in a parked car.

Letting your fingers do the shopping

Be vigilant about how and where you are typing personal data online. Cybercriminals take advantage of people through scams such as phishing emails, quick money schemes and bogus gift cards.

  • Make sure you are buying from a secure site by looking for the lock symbol on the browser status bar and “https” in the address. Both of those will indicate that you are shopping on a secure site, which has a trusted and safe backend system.
  • Make sure your security software is up to date. Keeping the anti-virus software up to date and running should stop you from going to an unsafe shopping site.
  • Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail or click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail. Only open attachments from known senders. Always run a virus scan on attachment before opening.
  • Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
  • Log on directly to the official Web site for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
  • The number one thing when shopping on a mobile device is to password-protect the phone or tablet. Also use a different password at every site. A password should be a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

Securing your packages

When going to the mall or shopping center, park in well-light areas, lock all car doors, and close windows.

  • Never leave your purse and other valuables unattended in shopping carts.
  • Try not to have your hands so full of packages when leaving stores that you become an easy victim.
  • Hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk or under seats.
  • Move your vehicle to another parking location before returning inside the store.

Home surveillance videos have shown criminals are already in action stealing packages from the front porch.

  • If you shop online and do not think you will be home when the items are delivered, consider shipping purchases to your place of employment or to a family or friend who is home.
  • If you plan to be on vacation or away for a few days, stop your mail or have it picked up by a neighbor. Automatic lights can also make it appear someone is home.

When the shopping is done, your financial security is not.

  • Always reconcile your bank and credit card statements each month and check for unauthorized transactions.
  • Report any suspicious inquiries or unauthorized transactions to your bank immediately.
  • Every year, you should obtain copies of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.