Above: Stay safe this holiday season by shopping wisely. Image by Alexas Fotos from Pixabay.

I hope you survived the annual Thanksgiving gathering, complete with updates on who’s divorced, getting divorced, threatening divorce and who’s pregnant, the details of which might lead to divorce. Good times.

From now to your January credit-card bill, you’ll be distracted. Shopping comes with all the headaches you’ve suffered through before. Crowded stores, limited parking, rude drivers, bartenders who can’t get a vodka martini right—the usual.

Friday after Thanksgiving is Black Friday. It’s a day that makes you wonder how we as humans got to the top of the food chain. Thousands of shoppers are focused on the sole mission of procuring a ridiculous list of absolutely necessary items at bargain-basement prices. To shop well past common sense and buyer’s remorse, to shop until the credit card actually melts.

All of this dynamic activity is distracting. By default, the last thing on your mind is security. That said, why load you up with a couple of dozen crime prevention tips when most will never see the light of day? Instead, let’s go with a short checklist.

When shopping in person

  1. When shopping, keep your cash and driver’s license in your front pocket. Leave the 32-pound purse at home. Instead, bring a small wallet or go with the front-pocket method.
  2. Don’t leave items on the seat of your car. Hide them or go home and drop them off. Don’t fidget around for your keys at the car. Have them ready. Look around for other people near you. Get in your car, start it and go—without checking Instagram or Facebook. Just go.
  3. Inside the store, keep up with your stuff. Don’t set items down while you search through the black hole in your 32-pound purse for your cellphone or exact change. Block off other people’s view when you enter your password at the cashier’s station.
  4. Shop during the day if possible. If you’re shopping at night, go with a friend. Do not engage strangers who approach you in the store or parking lot. (Again, have your keys in hand.) If you have a defense item such as pepper spray, a Taser or a bazooka, have it ready. Report anyone suspicious to the police (911.)

When shopping online

This list is slightly longer, but since online shopping is super easy, there are a few things to consider as you sit in your recliner, drink coffee, watch a football game and shop. Isn’t it wonderful that once you hit “submit,” Amazon delivers it 10 minutes later?

It’s no secret that hackers can and will gladly steal your information. That said, here are a few simple, effective tips. Use them this holiday season when you’re shopping online for that special gift, such as the six-gallon, 150 psi air compressor I’ve been mentioning around my house for a couple of weeks.

Here we go.

  1. Install antivirus software. Update same. Don’t let it lapse. You want protection from ransomware, Trojans and bots. (Look them up. They’re nasty guys you don’t want in your computer.)
  2. Use unique passwords for each application you hold near and dear. I know—this is the worst for me, too, since I cannot remember them. Honestly, you’re going to write them down, so remember where you hid your passwords!
  3. Don’t click on e-mail links from unsolicited sources. (Click bait.) Also, protect your social-media privacy. You can disable your sharing platform. Sounds complicated. Have your 10-year-old grandson do it for you. He’ll know.
  4. Don’t shop on public wi-fi. Never save your credit card number online. Use those passwords, the ones that you forgot where you stored the list.
  5. Check your online accounts frequently over the holiday period to make sure no unauthorized purchases took place. If so, notify the credit card company immediately. On that note, use your credit card, not your debit card. (It’s easier to recover if you’re hit with identify theft through a credit card.)
  6. When it comes to social media, especially Facebook, put a moratorium on new friend requests—especially from anyone you don’t know.

Please enjoy the holidays and remember, the six-gallon, 150 psi air compressor is a great gift for dad!

Steve Rose

Steve Rose is a retired police captain and a contributing writer to Atlanta Senior Life.