Holiday shopping tips a sure way to avoid shopping disasters

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    By MICHELLE WOODBURY

    During the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, it is important to keep personal safety in mind. Take note of these shopping safety tips to avoid pick-pockets, thieves and muggers.

    ATMs

    * Use them in populated places, and pay attention to your surroundings.

    * Go during the daylight hours.

    * If you must go at night, pick a machine that is well-lit and visible to passing traffic.

    * If anyone is lurking near the machine, pass it up and find another.

    MALL

    * Try to shop when the mall is less crowded — during the weekday, or at night when malls stay open late for holiday shoppers.

    * Don’t dangle your handbag from your shoulder. Instead, keep your purse tucked tightly under your arm. Better yet, don’t carry a purse, and wear a fanny pack facing the front instead.

    * Keep your money in different pockets. That way a pick-pocket can’t clean you out in one swoop.

    * Avoid carrying your checkbook, cash, and credit cards all together in one wallet. Keep your keys separate as well.

    * Don’t “flash” large rolls of money in public. You never know who’s watching!

    * Make sure you’ve been given your credit card back after a purchase.

    * Watch your credit card slip being filled out – make sure it’s not passed through the machine more than once. Ask for your carbons.

    * Destroy the carbons, but keep your credit card receipts and check them against monthly bills.

    * Make a list of your major credit cards, their account numbers and the phone numbers to call if cards are lost. Keep this list at home.

    * If you’re not sure a large shopping bag will be available, take one of your own to the mall.

    * Consolidate as many shopping bags as possible, or make several trips to your car to deposit shopping bags in the trunk. Avoid carrying large, heavy packages that block your vision and make you a target for purse-snatchers.

    PARKING LOTS

    * Always park where there is plenty of light around your car and also from your car to the mall or store entrance.

    * Once your car is parked, familiarize yourself with its location so you can find it quickly.

    * Don’t hesitate to ask for a security escort if you feel unsafe.

    * Use the trunk of your car to keep your packages out of sight.

    * Keep your car locked at all times.

    * When walking through parking lots, be aware of your surroundings. Walk with authority. Don’t look like a victim!

    * Have your keys in your hand before you go to your car.

    Source: Aurora Public Schools Risk Management Web site : http://www.aps.k12.co.us/risk/

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