Holiday season safety tips from police
Published Tuesday, November 29, 2011 10:53AM CST
The Winnipeg Police Service and RCMP would like to remind citizens to be watchful of potentially hazardous situations during the busy holiday season. The following are a few of its home and personal safety strategies to consider.
Season’s thievings: ID fraud and holiday shopping
The busiest retail season of the year has already begun and with an increase in financial transactions comes an increase in opportunities for fraud artists. This year, keep your holiday shopping joyous by taking a few extra precautions:
Shopping in person:
- Even though you will be rushed and thinking about a thousand things, try to remain alert to your surroundings.
When paying with a credit or debit card, never lose sight of your card. Whenever possible, swipe your card yourself rather than giving it to the cashier.
- Always shield your PIN when entering it. Don’t be embarrassed – you’re not insulting anyone.
- Do not keep a written record of your bank PIN number(s) or your social insurance number in your wallet or hand bag.
- If you suspect anything unusual when using a point-of-sale terminal (pin pad) or an ATM, do not use the machine and report it immediately to the police or the financial institution.
- Shop only from your home computer and equip it with the latest web browser. Using your home computer is much safer than shopping at a terminal in an internet café or library.
- If you plan to buy something, go directly to a store’s website by manually typing its address into your web browser. Don’t click on links in an e-mail message even if you know who sent it.
- Verify secure connections. When shopping on-line, do not 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 reliable third-party payment company such as PayPal, a credit card with a low credit limit or a single-use payment card.
- Unlike secure order forms on a web site, e-mail messages are not private. Do not send confidential personal or financial information by e-mail.
- When browsing auction sites or unauthorized retail websites, be cautious of drastic sale prices on sought-after designer items and popular electronics. The legitimate goods are rarely discounted.
- Monitor your bank and credit card and statements on-line. Electronic statements allow you to review your purchases and payments as they happen rather than waiting until the end of the month to review your paper statement. Immediately report any discrepancies to your bank or to the company that issued the credit card.
- Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery and do not leave pieces of mail lying around your residence or office.
- Shred or otherwise destroy pre-approved credit card applications, credit card receipts, bills and any documents containing personal information when they’re no longer needed.
- Do not provide personal information such as your SIN, date of birth, credit card numbers, or PIN over the telephone or via e-mail. There are more secure methods for providing this valuable information when it is legitimately required
- Avoid mail or telephone solicitations disguised as promotions. Criminals involved in this type of scam typically offer you an instant prize or an award for the purpose of obtaining personal information, such as your credit card numbers.
This holiday season, be a Scrooge with your personal information. If, despite your best efforts, you feel you’ve been victimized by a scam or a fraud, you should report it immediately to the police service of jurisdiction in your area.
- When attending to an automated banking machine, be aware of who is in line behind you and ensure your PIN number is protected from others' view.
- Do not count your money in plain view of others.
- Keep your credit cards secure.
- Retain all copies your financial transactions and/or ensure that they are disposed of in a secure manner.
- DO NOT provide personal or financial information over the phone or computer if it is unsolicited and you cannot verify the origin.
- Do not leave jackets, bags or purses unattended or in a cart while shopping.
- Keep purses and bags zipped shut.
- If leaving packages inside your car, place them in the trunk out of view.
- Lock your vehicle at all times.
- Door to door canvassers for charities carry identification. Ask to see it if it is not clearly visible and call the charity directly if necessary to ensure they are conducting fundraising activities.
- Do not leave large boxes for high priced electronics or other items in plain view in your recycling bin. Either turn them inside out or dispose of them in community recycling bins.
- Shut drapes or blinds in order to prevent would-be culprits from viewing your property and/or electronics from outside.
- Contact police if suspicious activity is observed in your neighbourhood.
Additional safety tips can be found on the Winnipeg Police Service website at www.winnipeg.ca/police
Have a safe and happy holiday season.