Good Tuesday Morning folks! Yesterday I described the methods of holiday shopping we will all encounter this year. Today, I will describe the way to stay safe at a brick and mortar retailer. Let’s start our discussion where we the consumer start our shopping, in the parking lot. Parking lots at retailers are packed during this time of year because everyone is shopping at the one store or the one mall we want to shop at. Practicing these next two steps will add a layer of safety to you and your family while at the retailer. Patience is that nasty little virtue that we all seem lose when it is the holiday season. While looking for a parking spot, use patience with other drivers. If someone cuts you off or steals that parking spot from you, don’t say anything or making any special hand gestures at the person, and here is why. If you do, they may wait to see where you park, and after you go in, they vandalize your car. Worse yet, they may start a physical altercation with you as soon as you do find a spot. I know it is tough, but just bite your lip and move on to the next parking spot. Choosing the right spot is the next step in the parking for safety methodology. As we are all aware, nightfall comes earlier in the winter months. Depending on what part of the country you are in, it could get dark as early as 4pm. Try to locate a spot as close to a light pole as possible. This way, your car will be well lit when you come back out to leave.
Inside the retail shop or mall:
While shopping, make sure you know your surroundings. If you are inside a mall or shopping center, be weary of how you carry your purse/wallet. Men, try to keep your wallet, or at least your cash, credit cards, and driver’s license in your front pocket of your pants, and women, keep your purse strap situated to where the open end is nearest to the front of your body, and if you can zip the purse shut, do so. Try to make it very difficult for a purse snatcher to pull your purse off your body. Next item while inside the shop, payment type. Payment card (debit/credit) information is a hot commodity on the black market. If a thief can get your card information, they can rob you blind, and then sell your card information before you even leave the store. So, if you can, pay with cash, if not, use a credit card and not your debit card. This may sound ridiculous, but hear me out. If a thief gets your debit card, the limit to the money they can steal is based on the amount of money you have in your account. If they take all of your money, you will have to fight it out with your bank to get the cash back, which can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, meanwhile, you still have to pay rent/mortgage, utilities, etc… If the thief steals your credit card number, you can fight it out with the credit card company over a prolonged period of time and it not cost you anything. So, credit card leaves you with cash, debit card leaves you broke, and cash leaves the situation alone. Now that the explanation is out of the way, here are some tips to help you prevent possible problems. Do not let your credit card leave your sight. If the person behind the counter “needs to scan your card below the counter” do not allow them to. Again, do not let your card out of your sight! You don’t know what is behind the counter, and therefore, you don’t know if they are swiping your card into a scanner that will copy your information. Next, be mindful of what is going on around you while at the checkout counter. Thieves like to wait for you to be preoccupied before they make their move. Keep your head on a swivel. Make sure you are looking and listening to what is going on. If you look to be aware of your surroundings, thieves will choose a new victim. Also at the counter, make sure nobody is right up on you. It is ok to ask someone to give you some space. Try to keep someone at least an arm lengths distance away from you.
On your way to your car and to your home:
When you are heading back to your car, hold your keys between your fingers, with the pointed in facing outward. If someone decides to try and attack you, you can use your keys at as a protective measure. Don’t lose focus on the task at hand. You want to ensure you are fully alert to your surroundings. Do not walk between SUVs or Vans if at all possible. This will lessen the likelihood of you or your shopping bags being pulled into the vehicle. When you find your vehicle, check the surroundings, make sure nobody is waiting near your vehicle, and make sure nothing is wrong with your vehicle. Look under your vehicle to make sure there is nothing that could damage your car. Once you get in your car, lock the doors immediately. Finally, when you are driving home, make sure you aren’t being followed.
These tips may sound like I am paranoid, and to that I say, “Yes, I am paranoid, which is why I am safer than you!” These tips are solely to help minimize any problems you could run into while out shopping. Remember, if someone wants to attack you, they will, but nothing says you can’t defend yourself in the process. There are no rules when it comes to fighting off an attacker. If I can’t pull my gun or my knife during an attack, you better believe I will bite, knee in the groin, or even grab a handful of junk to ensure I cause the most amount of pain as possible. Keep yourself safe at all costs!
Tomorrow we will continue our safe shopping series with tips to stay safe while shopping online.
Protect your information, protect yourself; Coffee is brewing people, it is time to wake up!!!