It’s the most wonderful time of the year – and also the most stressful, in many ways. One thing you shouldn’t have to worry about during this season of giving is your physical and financial safety.
Crimes tend to spike over the holidays; for example, reports last year showed as high as a 30 percent increase in retail crime over the holidays. There are a few motives that can be ascribed to this increase in thievery. For one, there are simply more people (and potential targets) out and about, carrying cash and credit cards and newly purchased items. Secondly, in a regular year, many people depart town, leaving their homes empty and vulnerable to theft. Thirdly, those who steal have families to buy for too – the pressure of the holidays can drive people to desperate measures when ends aren’t meeting.
In any case, you can easily take the proper precautions to safeguard yourself and your possessions. Read on for some tips on how to protect yourself and your belongings over the coming holidays.
Keep Your Home Safe
- We all want our homes to be festive for the season, but avoid displaying gifts where they can be seen from a window or doorway.
- Packages left on porches or doorsteps are an easy target for thieves. They also draw unwanted attention to your home. Arrange to have packages delivered to a neighbor if you're not home to receive them.
- Always lock your home's doors and windows, even if you're only gone for a little while.
- If you’re leaving town, have a trusted friend or neighbor take care of your home. If no one is available to house-sit, cancel your general deliveries such as mail, newspapers, and other services.
- Notify your local police department if you're planning an extended absence. They can issue a vacation watch or a directed patrol for your home. And be careful what you post on social media about extended vacations.
Keep Your Car Safe
- Park in well-lit areas, no matter where you go.
- Always lock your car and roll up your windows, even if you're only gone a few minutes.
- Don’t leave your valuables in plain sight. When possible, lock all your belongings or packages in the trunk of your car.
- Stay alert to your surroundings and the people around you. Scout out your car and around it as you approach.
- If you have an anti-theft device, don’t be afraid to use it! Car alarms are an excellent tactic to scare off thieves.
- Make sure your license plates are secure, and stickers are scored. A very common theft in urban areas is the theft of license plate stickers. Many thieves will remove the plate, or even cut off the corner of the plate to steal the sticker. Placing your sticker in the middle of the plate and "scorning" it with a razor blade will help prevent sticker theft. Using a clear plastic cover over the plates is also a good way to deter license plate and sticker thefts.
Keep Your Money Safe
- If you write checks, use only the necessary information – name, address, phone number. Never give away your social security number!
- If you shop in person this year, be extra mindful of your purse or wallet. Carry a purse under your arm, or keep your wallet in an inside pocket. You should also avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
- Safeguard your personal information, including credit card numbers and checks as you do cash. Don’t leave them in pockets or sitting out in restaurants, stores or hotel rooms.
- Make a list of all your credit cards, debit cards and checks with account numbers. Keep the list in a secure place at home.
- Notify issuers immediately if your card is lost, stolen or misused. Click here to read what you should do if you find you’re a victim of fraud.
- Keep your receipts and keep an eye on your bank statements to ensure all listed purchases are valid.
- Shopping online? Want to learn more on how to be safe and secure? Academy Bank has some tips for you here.
Another financial safety tip is to consider Direct Deposit of your payroll or benefit checks; it's safe and convenient and prevents the theft of your checks. If you haven’t signed up for Mobile Deposit with Academy Bank, it’s easy to get started.* You can also get started by logging in to Digital Banking. To enroll in Digital Banking for the first time, click here.
Lastly, remember that if you’re a victim of theft in any of these scenarios to report it to the police. They can only catch criminals – and potentially restore your possessions – so long as they have your report.
Enjoy A Safe and Secure Holiday Season
This year has already been stressful enough – this final holiday week should be a time of rest and relaxation with your loved ones. By following some of the above pointers, you can keep yourself and your belongings protected well into the new year.
Rest assured, Academy Bank is thinking of you this holiday season.
* Deposits are subject to verification and not available for immediate withdrawal.