‘Tis The Season
The holidays are now upon us. It’s a special time of year for families and friends. A time for gatherings, shopping and generosity. The month of December is really like no other! Unfortunately, this is also the time of the year for scammers and thieves to be out in full force, hoping to steal and take advantage of your holiday cheer and kindness.
This month’s edition of the Lilburn Safety Zone is a warning to all. Hopefully, following these safety tips will keep you wise and your hard-earned money from falling into a criminal’s hands. Protect yourself, home, and family.
Let’s cover the basics:
Scammers love the holidays. During the holiday season, you may get solicitations from texts, online ads and phone calls. The solicitations may advertise a sought-after item for a much lower price. You may find yourself talking to someone about donating to a charity that will help buy toys for underprivileged children or feed the homeless. While there are many good, licensed charities that do assist those needs, scammers hope you will donate on the spot without a second thought.
Verify, verify, verify!
Check websites for authentication before purchasing anything. Contact the store directly to verify price and ensure the price is real. Check for misspellings in the ad. More than likely, if it’s too good to be true, it usually is. Do NOT give your credit card number to ANYONE over the phone who calls you about donating. Do NOT purchase gift cards for the purpose of paying anyone! This is a scam. Just hang up and report to your local police department.
Also, scammers often solicit drivers in retail areas with heavy traffic. They have signs saying they are out of work. Homeless. Need to feed their families. Let me assure you, these folks have homes, apartments, and SUV’s valued at $100,000. How do they do it? By preying on your kindness.
It’s illegal in the City of Lilburn and you need to call 911 if you see this activity. No need to confront anyone, just report and let the police handle. These scammers can easily make $1, 000 in a few hours. They often use their children as a part of the scam, putting dirt on their faces for effect.
Shopping has changed considerably during the last few years. Many people do their entire shopping online these days. Packages are delivered to their homes. This is so convenient and easy! Problem is that thieves or “porch pirates” also find this easy and convenient and are always looking for the quick score.
A good tip to follow is to have a signature confirmation. This way the package must have a signature to deliver the package. Give instructions to deliver the package around the house if the package must be left. You can also pick up the package at your local mail center. You can also have the package delivered to a neighbor’s house if you know they will be home and they agree to accept it for you.
If your employer agrees, have the package delivered to your work while you are there. At any rate, it’s never a good idea to have multiple packages just delivered to your front door and left unattended. These thefts are a crime of opportunity. If a thief thinks he or she can get in and out without being detected, they will take that chance. At the very least, have a recorded video feed of the area where the package will be dropped off.
Have a plan if you plan on shopping at multiple locations. Be aware of your surroundings. Know that if you go to one store, then go to your car and put it in the trunk, a thief could be looking to see if you leave to go into another store. Just keep your purchases with you and plan to get larger items last. Also, it’s a good idea to keep one good credit card with you. That way, if your purse or wallet was stolen, you only have one card or bank to deal with.
Try and avoid carrying cash, if possible, for your shopping. Thieves pay attention to people using cash when checking out. If you must use cash, have near the amount needed and only show it to the cashier before paying.
Keep your vehicle locked and only use parking lots at night that are well lit. Avoid shopping centers that are dark or have suspicious people lurking about. Be set up for a crime to occur. Have your key fob ready to honk the horn when approaching your vehicle if someone approaches. Remember that where you parked in the day may appear different at night.
Lastly, have an employee walk you out to your vehicle if you feel it’s unsafe to leave and report suspicious behavior.
After the holidays are over, make sure to break down large boxes before placing in the trash. The last thing you want to do is advertise items inside your house to anyone walking or riding down your street. I know some of these safety tips may seem very simple, but so many people forget these little things while they are distracted or enjoying time with family and friends. These little things may be the difference between becoming a victim of a crime or stopping an attack.
The Lilburn Police Department wishes you a Happy Holiday and Happy New Year!