The holiday shopping season is upon us. The backseats of our vehicles are filled with gifts for friends and family, packages are being delivered to our homes and stockings are stuffed by the chimney with care. But beware, Kevin McAllister from “Home Alone” won’t be available to booby trap your home from bandits. In his absence the Asheville Police Department would like to suggest ways you and your family can do to ensure that your home, vehicle and identities are safe and secure this holiday season.
- Make sure all windows and doors are shut and locked; this includes garage doors. Don’t make it easy for someone to break into your home.
- Alert friends and neighbors to when you will be heading out of town for the holidays. Leave a few lights on so at night the house doesn’t appear vacant. Consider placing a hold on your mail and newspaper so it will be less apparent that you are away for an extended period of time.
- Be cognizant of where you are storing your packages in the home. Try to keep them out of view from windows and doors. By placing parcels out in the open you are further enticing someone to enter your home.
- Consider keeping bushes and trees trimmed to prevent hiding places for thieves and to make your home more visible.
- Never leave your vehicle unlocked. Whether you are shopping or just parking outside of your home, always make sure to lock your doors!
- Park in well-lit areas. If you are out shopping and know you will be in the store after dusk, park as close as you can to street lamps or parking lot lights.
- Store purchases in the trunk of your car. Don’t leave anything of value visible in your vehicle. This includes iPods, cell phones, GPS units and any charging cables that would give someone the impression that you have one of these electronic devices.
- Don’t leave your garage door opener out in the plain site. There have been a number of instances where someone breaks into your vehicle, steals the garage door opener and then follows you home. The next time you are away they have easy access to your home and all your belongings.
- Never leave your purse or wallet unattended in a shopping cart. You are making it too easy for someone to steal your license, credit card and other valuable personal information.
- Women, consider leaving your purse at home and utilize a wallet that fits in your coat pocket. Forty of all identity theft results from a stolen purse.
- When shopping online, or in stores, use your credit card rather than your debit card or checks. When you use these methods of payment, the money is drawn directly from your bank account. If fraud does occur, it’s harder to get the money reimbursed and in the meantime, you don’t have the money to spend. When you use a credit card, nothing is withdrawn from your bank account. In addition, credit cards generally give you a longer period (ninety days) to catch the fraud before you are held liable. Debit cards generally give you 30 days.
- Watch your statement. Most forms of holiday identity theft can be caught simply by monitoring your checking, debit and credit card accounts frequently.
Many of us enjoy checking off our holiday gift list by shopping online and having items delivered right to our front door. This is not only convenient for you, the gift buyer, but it makes it very easy for thieves to steal items.
- Consider adding signature confirmation for your package. There is a small fee to do this, but it increases the odds of a safe delivery.
- Use premium package control programs. For a $5-$10 per request, you can get access to power delivery tools at UPS and FedEx that allow you to reschedule times or specify delivery windows. Some delivery services even have vacation holds or the ability to identify delivery areas, like tucked behind a grill or planter.
- Consider having packages delivered to your local mail facility for pick up.
- Rather than having packages delivered to your home, have them delivered to work.