Don’t let criminals steal your holiday cheer

The holidays are a joyous season filled with memories, laughter, giving and of course, shopping. To ensure that your shopping cheer isn’t dampened by criminal behavior, follow these safety tips:

  • Pay for purchases with a credit card that has fraud protection.
  • Park in a well-lit area.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and carrying large purses and wallets.
  • Keep a record of all your credit card numbers in a safe place at home, in the event one is lost.
  • If possible, leave small children at home with a babysitter to avoid distractions during the crowded shopping season.
  • Choose ATM machines that are located in heavily traveled public areas, malls and well-lit areas.

“Safety and security require awareness of the people and events around you,” said Indiana Department of Homeland Security Executive Director Bryan J. Langley. “Attention to detail can improve your ability to identify and respond to an event or incident. Know your exits, keep your head up, check the weather conditions before you travel and avoid distractions like using your phone or other electronic devices while you are walking.”

Online shopping can present a different set of security risks. Here are tips for keeping your purchases safe:

  • Keep virus protection or other computer security software updated on the computer that will be used for online shopping.
  • Make sure the Internet connection is secure.
  • Use complex passwords to safeguard personal information such as credit card numbers and billing addresses. A combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters offers the most protection.
  • Avoid visiting unknown web pages. Stick to shopping only well-known, reputable sites.
  • If available, consider using a virtual credit card service. Many banks offer this service. Virtual credit cards can be used only once and usually expire in 24 hours.
  • Keep operating systems, browsers and anti-virus software updated. Patches and updates for software are released when vulnerabilities have been discovered.
  • Be cautious of offers online. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“Unfortunately, thieves and undesirables that prey upon the public do not take a break during the holiday season. As a matter of fact, they use the inattention and complacence of holiday shoppers to their advantage,” said Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter. “Don’t give them the opportunity to make you a victim. Follow these safety tips, be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activities to police.”

Looking for that last minute gift for someone who’s hard to buy for? IDHS encourages citizens to consider giving the gift of preparedness. All-hazards weather radios, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and vehicle preparedness kits are all gifts that every Hoosier could use.

For more online shopping and holiday safety tips, visit

SOURCE: News release from Indiana Department of Homeland Security