Safety Tips for Black Friday
While most Black Friday shoppers generally map out a plan to maximize the most savings, thieves and other criminals are hard at work mapping out the best way to rob you of your Christmas joy. Consumers need to consider adding a few safety tips to their Black Friday plan in order to minimize the chances of becoming a victim to the criminals on the prowl.
Do you participate in Black Friday?
Choosing a Parking Spot
Know ahead of time whether the store or mall you are shopping at has parking lot cameras. Consider the best angles the camera has to get a good shot of where you may be parking. Therefore, in the event of an incident, the cameras would possibly have a better chance of capturing the crime and hopefully bring the criminals to justice.
Avoid parking near bushes, shrubs, and other foliage, especially if it is at knee level or above. Sometimes this allows criminals to lurk and hide. It also gives low visibility for witnesses and cameras to notice the crime taking place.
Most people on Black Friday begin shopping before the sun rises in the east and some shop until the sun sets in the west. If it is a possibility that you will be shopping at night or won't be returning to the car until after dark, try to park as close as possible to the lighting provided in the parking lot.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Once you have walked out of the doors of the store, visually locate your vehicle. Is there anyone standing around your vehicle? Being aware of your surrounding and where other people are on a busy shopping day may prevent a situation that leaves you vulnerable to an attack. As you approach your vehicle, still be alert to any changes in your surroundings such as people approaching your direction or someone sitting in their vehicle close to yours. Also, if possible, try to notice underneath your vehicle as you approach. This doesn't mean you need to bend over to look because that would leave you even more vulnerable to an attack. Even as you load your shopping bags into your vehicle, stay alert to who may be approaching.
Do Not Be On the Phone
When leaving the store to get in your vehicle, try not to be on the phone. This leaves you distracted and less likely to be alert to dangers in your surroundings. Even still, if someone does attack you, it is more difficult to react and defend yourself if you have a phone in your hand. Wait until you are safely in your car with your doors locked before returning any calls or texts. However, please do not text or talk on your phone while driving.
Have Your Keys Ready
It is a good idea to have the key to your vehicle ready before leaving the store. Not only can they be used to fend off and attacker but will leave you less vulnerable to attack as you won't have to fumble through your handbag or pocket for the keys. Remember, criminals will attack when you are distracted and the most vulnerable; don't give them any opportunity. If you have an automatic button that unlocks your vehicle, press it only when you have arrived at your vehicle. The same goes for pressing the button to open the trunk.
It is also a good idea to have a safety whistle and pepper spray key chain attached to your keys. This will come in handy if someone is bold enough to attack you. There are some key chain devices that will sound off loud alarms if the button is pressed. Many auto-lock remotes also have a panic button that sets off alarms on your vehicle if you have them.
Check the Backseat
Before you open your car door, make sure you check the back seat. Some criminals are bold enough to break into your car and lay in wait. Even still, if you accidentally forgot to lock any of the vehicles doors, a criminal can easily access the contents of your vehicle and try to hide in ambush.
Lock Your Doors
Before you leave your vehicle unattended, be sure to lock it. Double check to make sure each door and hatch is locked to prevent not only theft but to prevent a criminal from hiding in the vehicle waiting to ambush you.
Keep Shopping Bags Out of Site
When you put your shopping spoils in your car and prepare to rush off to the next deal, make sure no one can see the shopping bags. If you have placed them in the back seat, have something available to cover the shopping bags to deter peaking the interest of a thief. Preferably, shopping bags should be stored in a closed trunk. For SUVs and other vehicles that have windows on the hatch, be sure to bring something to cover your shopping spoils.
Leave Young Kids at Home
Black Friday sales bring out the worst in people. There have been cases where fights have broke out and people injured or killed during a stampede. Therefore, if at all possible, try to find a way to get out for Black Friday without the kids. Consider hiring a babysitter to keep the little ones safe.
If leaving them at home is not an option, be sure you are diligent about keeping up with your children. Also, prepare the children ahead of time so they will now what to do in the event that they get lost. Make sure the children have memorized your phone numbers and address. Consider writing this information out on a card for the child to keep in his or her pocket.
Another thing worth investing in is allowing the child to have a cell phone, even if it is just for the day. Pre-program important numbers and information your child may need. Then be sure to teach the child how to properly use the phone. If your child doesn't currently have a cell phone, consider buying a cheaper, prepaid phone from a retailer, such as Wal-Mart.
Educate children about the dangers of leaving with strangers and where to go to find a trusted adult to help reunite them with you. It is also a good idea to keep a pocket size Child ID Kit on hand when you head out for Black Friday shopping. Also, before you leave the house, take an updated picture of the child with your phone. If your child is missing, this will allow authorities to know not only what the child looks like but what they are currently wearing.
Ladies, Keep Your Purse in Front of You
When in the store, it is wise for ladies to keep their purses and handbags in front of them at all times. Some experts say throw the strap over your head and across the shoulder so it will be harder for a purse snatcher to actually take off with your purse. You should also have a handbag that can be fully closed. Hobo bags and other purse styles that are easy for pick-pockets to access should not be used on Black Friday shopping.
Men, Put Your Wallet in Your Front Pocket
Most men normally put their wallet in their back pocket. This will leave you vulnerable to pick-pockets, especially on Black Friday. Men need to keep their wallet in a front pocket. The front pocket of your pants is fine but if you choose to keep your wallet in your coat, there are some things to consider. Don't put the wallet in the side pockets of your coat. A thief can stealthily steal your wallet from a side pocket. If your coat has inside front pockets, consider putting your wallet there.
Do Not Flash Your Cash or Credit Cards
It is advisable to carry cash on Black Friday, much less have it out for other shoppers to see. This makes you a profitable target for thieves. It is suggested that if you do not use credit or debit cards, you should consider loading any cash to a disposable or re-loadable Visa card. When at the cash register, many think that if they have their cards ready to pay while the cashier is ringing up the items it will make the line move faster and save you time. However, for safety reasons, wait to pull out your card until it is time to pay.
Do Not Carry Too Much Cash
Consider only carrying enough cash for quick drinks, snacks, and tips.
ATM machine pose both a safety risk and a financial risk, especially on Black Friday. ATMs inside some stores are not necessarily connected to a financial institution, thus run the risk of having a skimming device to capture your personal information. Also, be keenly aware of your surroundings, especially around ATM machines. Thieves lurk around ATM machines waiting to snatch your cash and run. If possible, have someone with you that can be your eyes and ears while you are focusing on accessing your account. Ideally, you shouldn't use ATMs at all on Black Friday but if you must, consider going to an ATM inside your bank.
Monitor Your Financial Statements
In the 21st century, we have many ways to stay connected to almost anything. Many banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions have apps that allow you to keep up with your financial information. If possible, try to double check your financial statements throughout the day to insure that no thieves have skimmed your information and spending your hard earned income.
What if you misplace your debit or credit card? What if it was stolen? The first thing you should do is call the financial institution and freeze the account. As of 2014, many financial institutions have specialized apps that you can download to your smart phone that allows you to actively freeze and unfreeze the account as you see fit. This eliminates long telephone wait times, which sometimes allows criminals more time to run off with your money. Some financial institutions take it a step further and allow you to put a fraud alert on your card to only allow the card to be swiped in certain geographical locations. Some have integrated this with an app, allowing the consume the radius to which the card can be swiped with relation to the location of your cell phone.
Credit/Debit Card Freeze App
© 2015 Linda Sarhan