When I saw the pictures of shoppers standing in the rain so they could start shopping at midnight, I knew I was missing that bargain gene. I am as cheerful as the next shopper during the holidays. But standing in a cold rain made my mind wander to a list of things that can go wrong on a shopping trip. Being sleep deprived, wet and crowded into a line were at the top of the list.
What I did think about was ways to avoid the lines and the problems. So here are some safe shopping tips if you go to the mall for your gifts. If you are joining the ranks of cyber-shoppers, I have included a few tips to help keep you safe and secure also. I hope it helps.
Shopping Mall Tips
Park in well-lit areas, near sidewalks or walkways. Avoid parking near garbage bins or around the sides of a building where the view of your vehicle is obstructed.
Shop with a friend. This not only helps maintain safety, but it can make the experience more fun. Take the time to grab a cup of coffee or tea and catch up. Now that’s good shopping.
Have your car keys ready as you approach or leave your vehicle. Consider making a few trips to the car to drop off packages instead of collecting a large bundle that you have to deal with. Make sure you can easily maneuver if you are approached by a thief or carjacker.
Stay alert to your surroundings. Don’t use the phone in the parking lot. Carrying bags and talking on the phone can distract you. Make sure you look for potential dangers like people following or cars backing out into traffic.
Consider using the valet service if you are at a shopping center alone at night. If you do, leave the valet only the ignition key. Keep your ID, registration and proof-of-insurance documents in a wallet or purse.
Put packages and bags in the trunk or out of view. Use something to cover the gifts if you must leave them in the back of an SUV or station wagon.
Don’t play the hero. If you are threatened by a carjacker or thief with a gun or weapon, give up whatever they are requesting and don’t argue.
For more information, contact the Mall Security office for specific tips or see one of these sites:
On-Line Shopping Tips List
Here’s a list of tips you should consult when shopping online.
Shop From a Secure PC. Don’t use a public PC to shop. Be careful with the shared PC in the family room if it is used by teens or others that don’t follow safe cyber-surfing. Make sure you look for the lock symbol that your browser uses to indicate a secure session.
Protect Your Privacy. When you shop, make sure you know what the company will do with your name, e-mail address, phone numbers or other information you provide. Read the Privacy Statement and shop somewhere else if you don’t like what you find.
Shop At Sites You Trust. Shop at well know sites or vendors you have used before. Be careful when shopping on-line auction sites or using a search engine. The price may be better, but it may be false economy if you don’t know who you are shopping with.
Use Your Credit Card, Not A Debit Card. Credit cards will enforce a liability limit. Debit cards do not always have the same protections. Check with your bank or credit union to be sure.
Use Alternate Payment Methods. Consider working with your bank or credit card issuer to get a one-time-use number. These can be issued so that you do not expose your credit card to any further purchases. You may also use PayPal which isolates your credit card from the on-line vendor.
Use e-Mail Alias to Cut Down On Spam. Sellers will often require that you post an e-mail address with every purchase. It is a great idea because then you get an invoice, or further promotions, delivered to you. But it can be overdone. If you want to complete the order, but have control over spam in the future, try e-mail Alias. Just add the vendor’s name to your e-mail address. This works with Google Mail and Verizon accounts. Check with your provider. Here what it looks like.
Let’s say your e-mail address is JoeBlow @ gmail.com and you are shopping at EarthWormsAreUs. Instead of JoeBlow @ gmail.com, try JoeBlow+EarthWorms @ gmail.com. This way, you will get the e-mail and you don’t have to manage hundreds of e-mail accounts in the future.