Shopping Safely in Stores

While some are sleeping soundly, digesting their Thanksgiving meal, others are setting their alarms for Black Friday shopping. But bargain hunters aren’t the only ones who look forward to the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Thieves are also making their plans to prey on shoppers.

About 190 million people shop on Black Friday weekend according to the National Retail Federation and shoppers spend on average of about $360 during that time. That leaves a lot of opportunities for shoppers to become Black Friday Victims.

Whether you're shopping on Black Friday or any other day, it’s important to plan ahead and be prepared. Here are some tips to keep you and your gifts safe.

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When driving to the stores, park in a well-lit area. Roll up your windows and lock your doors. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

While your in stores, only buy what you can carry. Keep your purse buttoned or zipped and keep it close. Only when the cashier asks for payment should you take out credit cards or a checkbook--and save your receipts. You can also always ask an employee or store security to walk with you to your car.

Have your keys in hand before leaving the store to walk to your car. Be aware of strangers approaching you for any reason. Make sure to look under your car before you reach it. Place packages in the trunk or hide them. If you plan to head back in to do more shopping, move your car to another parking spot in a different area of the parking lot. This can help throw off thieves who may have been watching.

When you get home, immediately bring in all your purchases and valuables (purse, keys, etc.). Sit down with your monthly statements and look for any unusual transactions. Report anything strange to the financial institution immediately.