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Grinch-proof your holiday shopping plans with in-person and online shopping tips. (123RF)

Holiday shopping season is in full swing. Whether you’re hitting the stores or shopping online from the comfort of your home, Halifax Regional Police and Halifax District RCMP — your Partners in Policing — have a few simple tips to Grinch-proof your holiday shopping sprees.

In-person shopping

  • Always lock your vehicle. Thieves are very active this time of year.
  • Park in well-lit, well-travelled areas.
  • Keep valuables out of sight. Thieves will look for people storing valuables in their vehicles. If you’re going to drop off your purchases and return to the store or the mall, you should lock your packages in the trunk and move your vehicle to another location in the parking lot.
  • Don’t leave high-end purchases in your vehicle. Thieves will watch shoppers exiting a store, especially if they’re carrying a high-end item. Shop strategically; wait until the end of your shopping trip to make high-end purchases or make a special trip to take high-end items home and then return to continue shopping.
  • Protect your personal identification number (PIN) when using bank and debit machines. Cover the keypad to prevent someone from observing your key strokes or from recording your PIN. It’s a good idea to change your PIN frequently.
  • After a day of shopping, don’t leave parcels or valuables in your vehicle upon returning home. Remove all valuables such as purses and wallets, laptops, global positioning system (GPS) devices and other electronics, and keep your vehicle free from clutter; even an empty shopping bag can create the appearance that there’s something in your car worth stealing.
  • Monitor your bank and credit card statements online. Electronic statements allow you to review your purchases and payments as they happen. Immediately report any discrepancies to your bank or to the company that issued the credit card.

Online shopping

  • Shop from your home computer. It’s much safer than shopping at a public terminal.
  • Use different user identifications and passwords for different accounts.
  • Go directly to a store’s website by manually typing its address into your web browser.
  • Don’t click on links in an email message even if you know who sent it.
  • Verify secure connections. When shopping online, don’t enter any financial information if you see a broken key or open padlock symbol on your internet browser, this means the transaction is not secure and could be intercepted by a third party. When the key is complete or the padlock is locked, your browser is indicating a secure transaction.
  • Consider using a company acting as escrow (reliable third party), a credit card with a low credit limit or a single-use payment card.
  • Unlike secure order forms on a website, email messages are not private. Don’t send confidential personal or financial information by email.

Police Beat is written by Halifax Regional Police and Halifax District RCMP to provide information on policing in Halifax Regional Municipality. The articles are intended to educate citizens on the different public safety issues to help prevent crime or to provide detailed information on the various specialized units within policing so people can have a greater perspective regarding what the police do in our community.

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