Have you ever posted about an upcoming holiday trip on social media? You might be inviting the Grinch to your house when you’re away.
The Grinch loves to steal Christmas, but the Myrtle Beach Police Department and the National Crime Prevention Council offers the following safety tips to help you avoid getting “Grinched” this holiday season:
- Park in a well-lighted space. Roll up your windows, lock your vehicle doors and lock packages and valuables in your trunk.
- Don’t overburden yourself with packages. Plan ahead by taking a friend to shop with you or ask a store employee to help you carry your packages to the car.
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- Avoid carrying or flaunting large amounts of cash.
- Save all receipts, including from your online purchases. NCPC recommends starting a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.
- Check your credit and bank statements regularly for fraud.
- Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as one-time or multi-use disposable credit cards or money orders, at online stores and auction sites.
- Deter purse snatchers and pickpockets by carrying your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket. Never place your purse in a shopping cart where it can be easily snatched.
- Always be aware of your surroundings while shopping and remember to check your backseat and around your car before getting in.
- Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle.
- Don’t entice the Grinch by displaying Christmas gifts where they can be seen through windows from the outside and avoid leaving boxes from expensive purchases out on the curb.
- Do not advertise on social media that you will be away from home.
- Shop only on secure websites that you know and trust. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address.
- Make sure your personal computers are up-to-date on security software before surfing the Internet. Everyone’s computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed, according to the NCPC, which recommends www.bytecrime.org for free software downloads.
- Keep your personal information private and your password secure. Do not respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses will not contact you in this manner.
- Beware of “bargains” from companies with whom you are unfamiliar—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, NCPC notes.
MBPD rolled out its first holiday safety video, “Don’t Get Grinched!” in 2015 to remind the public of important safety tips.
The video featured members of the police department and was filmed by Myrtle Beach Police officer Mike Dame. The nearly three-minute clip uses a Grinch to illustrate some of the pitfalls that could be lurking for shoppers who are unaware of their environments.
The video ends with the Grinch in handcuffs and a final message from the police: “We can handle the Grinch. Help us out by being safety conscious. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.”
Reach Weaver at 843-444-1722 or follow on Twitter @EmilyWORDWeaver.