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Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Your Safe Shopping List

Consumers, go ahead and circle the dates on your calendars – in green ink, if you like. Black Friday 2016 arrives on Nov. 25th, with its companion Cyber Monday following on Nov. 28th.

Unfortunately, businesses won’t be the only ones looking to profit. Shoppers should take precautions to protect themselves from criminals during these billion-dollar shopping events.

Read through this list of safety tips on preventing low-tech and high-tech crime. The information will help you avoid many of the hazards associated with consumerism’s national holidays.

Staying Safe Physically

Sadly, robberies have become a common occurrence as shoppers flood the stores and malls in search of Black Friday deals. To reduce your risk, follow these guidelines:

  • If you plan on buying more stuff than you can carry in one armload, have a friend or relative come along. You can also ask a store employee to help carry your packages.
  • In the parking lot, have your keys in hand well before reaching your car. Spending several moments fumbling through your pockets could provide a window of opportunity for a thief.
  • Speaking of cars and opportunistic criminals, be sure to put packages in the trunk so they’re not out in plain view.
  • Pickpockets and purse snatchers didn’t go out of style with Charles Dickens. Wallets should be kept in front pockets and purses should be carried close to the body.

Protecting Yourself Digitally

The infamous hacking of Target began on Black Friday 2013. The following months would see several more hacking incidents involving other retailers.

Whether you hit the stores on Black Friday or surf the Web for Cyber Monday deals – or both – you should take measures to thwart credit card fraud and identity theft.

  • Beware of “shoulder surfers” when you take out your credit card, debit card or checkbook in public. This brand of cyber-sneak tries to spot names and account numbers.
  • When you shop for Black Friday online deals or Cyber Monday deals, use sites that you know to be trustworthy and secure. Positive indicators include “https” in the prefix of the address and a padlock icon in a corner of the browser window.
  • Keep records of your receipts so that you can compare them against your credit card statements. Be on the lookout for purchases you didn’t make, which could indicate credit card fraud.
  • Keep an eye on your credit reports with the help of AnnualCreditReport.com.

Holiday Home Security: Be Discreet on Social Media

Did you hear the one about the burglar who monitored Facebook to figure out when his victims wouldn’t be at home? It’s not an urban legend. It’s a real-life criminal strategy that has taken place more than once. Keep a few precautions in mind as you go on the prowl for Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday savings.

  • Don’t announce shopping trips or travel plans on social media.
  • Avoid using check-in apps when you’re out and about. If your status update says you’re at the mall – with a time stamp, no less – a burglar has all the information he needs.
  • Refrain from mentioning expensive holiday gifts you’ve purchased or received. You could be helping a burglar fill out his or her illegal shopping list.

Make a Plan to Prevent Crime

The name of the game is discounts, but never discount safety. Planning and common sense can help you stay safe on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and follow through during the rest of the year.