wrapped-christmas-presentsSo you’re going out looking for bargains either tonight or early tomorrow morning. Think about a few safety tips as you begging to celebrate the holiday season. By the way, I lost about 15 pounds for my daughters wedding, so if you are buying gifts for me, “large” is the correct size.

While it is easy to get caught up in the fun of it all, it is important to remember that with increased purchasing comes heightened risk of theft. Thieves on the prowl throughout the holiday seasons are on the lookout for packages left in your car or outside your home.

Claim data shows that, on average, more thefts occur on Black Friday than any other day of the year. Not only that, but personal identity theft can also increase this time of year.  Be sure to take the necessary actions to help protect yourself.

Follow these steps while checking things off your shopping list.

Your parked vehicle can be a prime target for thieves. They often will break windows or punch locks to gain access to items left in plain view. Open windows and unlocked doors also can make your car an easy target. To help reduce the risk of theft from your vehicle, always lock your doors, even if you are quickly running in somewhere, and be sure to put the car windows up when leaving it unattended.

Park your vehicle in well-lit, high-traffic areas and away from larger vehicles or shrubs. Thieves can target cars parked in isolated areas in order to “work” without drawing attention.

Do not keep any items – including your purse or wallet – in plain view as clearly visible items can catch the eye of a thief. Be sure to stow and secure all items prior to reaching your destination. Also, be sure to remove any portable accessories, such as GPS units and stereo faceplates, when leaving your car.

Personal ID Theft

About 60 percent of Americans worry about identity theft, and the holidays are a prime time for thieves to target their victims. To help reduce the chances of falling victim to ID theft, limit the amount of personal information you carry in your wallet or purse to only what you will need for each shopping trip. Always take credit card and ATM receipts with you. Do not throw them into public trash containers or leave them on the counter as thieves can pick up the receipt.

Guard your credit card or debit card when making purchases or using an ATM machine. Shield your hand when typing in personal identification numbers. It is critical to always be aware of who is around you, as some identity thieves have been known to copy credit card information or even use cellphone cameras to snap pictures of cards.