SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) State Lodge is offering its annual tips and reminders to help shoppers remain safe and keep their purchases secure during the holidays.
“Don't let criminals take advantage of you during this season of giving,” said Illinois FOP State Lodge President Chris Southwood. “Shoppers can stay safe and make sure their purchases reach the intended recipients by following these few simple pieces of advice.”
The FOP offers the following holiday shopping safety tips and reminders based on information from the National Crime Prevention Council, www.ncpc.org.
Shopping in Stores
- Do not buy more than you can carry. Plan ahead by taking a friend with you or ask a store employee to help you carry your packages to the car.
- Save all receipts. Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases. Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.
- Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as onetime or multi-use disposable credit cards or money orders, at online stores and auction sites.
- Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook. An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.
-Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies if you are using mass transit.
Walking to and From Your Car
- Deter pickpockets. Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
- Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
- Do not leave packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home.
Shopping with Small Children
- If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you are separated from each other.
- Select a central meeting place.
- Teach children to know they can ask mall personnel or store security employees if they need help.
- Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Everyone’s computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed. Visit 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.
- Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address.
- Shop with companies you know and trust. Check for background information if you plan to buy from a new or unfamiliar company.
The Fraternal Order of Police, founded in 1915, is the largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. With a proud tradition of officers representing officers, the FOP is the most respected and most recognized police organization in the country. The Illinois FOP, chartered in 1963, is the second largest State Lodge, proudly representing more than 34,000 active duty and retired police officers - more than 10 percent of all FOP members nationwide. Visit www.ilfop.org for more information.