As we dive into another holiday season, I want to remind you of good safety habits to protect you both physically and financially. You should always practice these helpful tips, but this time of year seems to provide a target-rich environment for criminals and scammers seeking to capitalize on the shopping season and giving spirit.
Protecting your personal safety can be as simple as making yourself less of a target. Criminals look for signs that might make their crime and getaway easier.
First, when you are out in public, be aware of your surroundings and conditions around you. Pay attention if you have seen someone multiple times, at multiple locations, or if someone is standing near your car as you approach it. Don’t forget to use the horn or alert buttons on key fobs to draw the attention of others to your vehicle.
Second, try not to be visibly distracted with electronic devices. A distracted target is an easy target. Instead, keep your head up and pay attention. It is certainly OK to be on the phone, but be aware and make eye contact when you can to let would-be criminals know you see them. The last tip for your personal safety is to keep your distance from people you do not know. Staying a few feet away from others in public areas certainly is not a new concept in this time of COVID-19, so moving away from someone should not seem too offensive.
When you make purchases for the holidays, you want to keep thieves from getting their hands on your property. When you are out and about, protect packages left in your vehicle by covering them, keeping them out of view, and always lock your vehicle! Many people now make purchases that are conveniently delivered right to their door. Sadly, the well-known “porch pirate” may be lurking in your neighborhood, following delivery vehicles so they can steal packages recently delivered to a home. But you can fight back against these lawbreakers using technology or good old face-to-face networking.
Door cameras and home security cameras are great devices, but if you do not have them, consider speaking with neighbors to create a porch-watching partnership. Having a friendly discussion to engage neighbors to watch out for deliveries to neighboring houses can go a long way to either prevent thefts or help solve them when they occur. If you really want to keep people from stealing delivered packages off your porch, take time to go out and shop local!
Scammers operate at every facet of our daily life, from incessant phone calls to annoying email and social media messages, and even face-to-face contact. The most important rule to spot a scam is whether or not you initiated the contact. If you did not solicit information about a service from a person or business that contacts you, it could be a legitimate cause, but it could be a scam.
Often, scammers will misrepresent themselves as government officials or law enforcement officers. If you are contacted by someone representing themselves as a sheriff’s deputy, but they are not in uniform, call our office at 410-222-1570 to let us know. Always know that you can ask for identification and make a call to the agency or business to verify the identity of a representative. If the representative is unwilling to verify their identity, be alert and beware of a potential scam.
Finally, it is incredibly important to be aware of the stress that can come with the holidays. Take care of yourself, take some time, even if only a few minutes, to destress and calm your mind. If the stress of the season is too much, you can call the Anne Arundel County crisis response system community warmline 24 hours a day at 410-768-5522 to speak to a friendly voice for support and referrals. Stay safe, drive cautiously, be friendly and enjoy the holiday season.
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