At this time of year, many people are making preparations for what most deem the most wonderful time of the year. It is not just the new games console, LED TVs or mobile phone that criminals want: personal documentation, bank statements, dates of birth and address details head the fraudsters’ wish lists at this time of year. On the run up to Christmas and when celebrating with friends and family take a moment to think about the following seasonal precautions:
- When out shopping or celebrating, keep all your personal information secure (shield your PIN number from people queuing behind you, don’t carry your personal documents, PIN or passwords with you etc).
- When buying online – keep your passwords secure at all times, avoid using public Wi-Fi zones or shared computers when searching for last minute presents.
- Ensure that you have up-to-date security software, only use sites that provide secure payments and be sure you know who you are dealing with (www.getsafeonline.org).
- There will be more transactions than usual at this time of year, so be sure to examine your bank statement carefully.
- Shred documents when you dispose of them.
- If anyone in your family, especially teenagers or children, use social networking make sure they don’t inadvertently give away personal information.
- Don’t forget to keep your home secure, and keep your personal documents locked away. Theft or loss of documents such as your driving licence or passport should be notified immediately to the authorities.
- After the holidays pay close attention to bills and report any unauthorised charges.
On the run up to the Festive Season criminals take advantage of the hustle and bustle of town and city centres and because people are also generally more trusting and generous this can make it easier for crime to be committed. So, when you are out and about on the run up to Christmas and you are:
- Make sure you stay alert and be extra careful with your wallet or purse. Keep them close to your body and don’t carry too much money.
- Don’t take your purse out of your bag and leave it on the counter.
- It you travel by car, make sure you park in a well-lit area, lock all doors and windows and do not leave presents on view.
- Arrange to collect heavy items from stores when you have finished all of your shopping.
- Having made your purchases, don’t make it easy for someone to steal from your house. Keep presents out of sight until last thing on Christmas Eve.
- If you ‘hide’ or store larger items such as bicycles in a garden shed or outbuildings then make sure they are very secure.
- If you go out for the evening try to make your home occupied by turning on the lights and the radio. Don’t leave curtains open and be extra careful about locking doors and windows. As a fire precaution, don’t leave Christmas lights on in the house when you are out.
- If you go away during the holiday period use an automatic timer for your lights and ask a trusted neighbour to watch over your home.
Out on the Town
- Don’t leave your mobile phone, purse etc on tables in clubs and restaurants. This makes them an easy target.
- Always be alert for the opportunist thief.
- Make prior arrangements for getting home and avoid any potential disturbances on the street.
- Stay with friends and either organise a designated driver to take you home or book a taxi.
- Make sure someone knows where you are going and what time you will be back.
- If you receive a gift such as a mobile phone, laptop, i-pod, MP3 player, pedal cycle etc why not register it at www.immobilise.com. This is a free service that lets you record the details of your valuables. Anything with a serial number can be registered.
- The system can help the police reunite property with its owner if it’s lost or stolen.