As we enter the holiday season, the Broward Sheriff’s Office reminds you of a few important safety tips to help protect your identity and keep you safe now and throughout the year.
Usually a festive time of celebration, the holidays are also a time when people become vulnerable to identity theft and other crimes. Too often, opportunistic criminals prey on holiday shoppers – both online and in retail stores. When making purchases this holiday season, BSO reminds you to follow these important safety tips.
Protect your identity:
• Pay for purchases with a credit card instead of a debit card. Don’t let store clerks walk away with your card or write down your account information. Get your credit card back before you leave.
• Make sure you have a good firewall or anti-virus software installed on yourcomputer before shopping online.
• Keep your personal information and passwords private and use only secure websites.
• Shop online only with companies you know and trust.
• Research any organization that calls seeking charitable donations prior to donating by checking www.charitynavigator.org. Do not provide personal information over the phone, and never wire money. Donations should be made online through a secure payment site or mailed directly to the organization.
When you’re out shopping:
• Always be aware of your surroundings and park your car in a well-lit area.
• Never carry large amounts of cash. If you go to an ATM, do so in a safe location during daytime hours.
• Never secure valuables or expensive purchases inside your trunk. Criminals may be staking out the parking lot. Take these items with you or drop them off at home.
• When you return to your vehicle, stay alert and have your keys in hand.
Avoid becoming a victim at home:
• Store gifts or wrapped presents in an area that cannot be seen from windows or doors.
• Do not advertise what gifts you have received. Destroy boxes or conceal them in sealed, opaque garbage bags before leaving them for the garbage collection.
We can never be too careful or too aware of our surroundings. Stay safe this holiday season by remembering these important safety tips and share them with family and friends. On behalf of the men and women of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, I wish you a safe holiday season and a happy, healthy new year.
Scott Israel is Broward County’s Sherriff.