SIDNEY – COVID-19 won’t be the only danger that shoppers need to be aware of this holiday season, Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart said during his weekly interview.
Whether shopping online or shopping in a store, it’s important to take safety precautions to protect yourself.
In stores, shoppers should be aware of their surroundings at all times.
“Obviously don’t leave your personal items unattended,” the sheriff said.
If shopping with children, make sure you keep an eye on them. Also, it’s important to have a plan in case you get separated from your children or others in your party.
“If you get separated, you have a given point where you meet wherever it might be,” Lenhart said. “You pick the spot in the store, and if you get separated, you go to that spot and look for them.”
Shoppers also should be aware of pickpockets. To protect yourself, keep your money in your front pocket if possible. When carrying a purse, it’s best to have a small purse and ensure it’s strapped around your body, not just one arm.
Shoppers shouldn’t wear flashy clothes, jewelry or watches.
“Don’t make yourself a target like that,” Lenhart said.
It’s best to use a credit card while shopping and only use one card so purchases can be easily tracked. Credit cards are better for shopping than debit cards because they offer more protection when fraud occurs.
“They can drain your account, and there is no protection on that,” Lenhart said of fraud with debit cards. “The credit card companies will protect you if your card gets stolen.”
Don’t be afraid to speak up if something doesn’t feel right such as when someone is crowding your personal space, Lenhart said, speaking directly to the person or to a clerk.
“If something doesn’t feel right, doesn’t look right, follow those instincts,” Lenhart said.
When quantities of an item are limited, don’t get in a fight over them, Lenhart said. Last year there were 117 people injured and 12 people who died while shopping in the U.S.
“It’s certainly not important enough to be injured or lose your life over,” Lenhart said.
When leaving a store, it’s best to put purchases in your vehicle’s trunk. Otherwise, cover them with a blanket.
Also, be aware of your surroundings while walking through parking lots and avoid getting distracted by being on your phone.
It’s best to park near the store doors and in a well-lit area. When you get in your car, immediately lock the doors.
While shopping in a store or online, be wary of items that look or sound like a brand name item but are slightly different.
Be aware of fake websites masquerading as legitimate sites. Spelling errors are a common sign of a fraudulent site or product.
Also be wary of unsolicited emails and don’t click on any links unless you know they are legitimate.
While shopping online, use your own Wi-Fi and avoid public Wi-Fi.
“It’s so easy to monitor that and steal your information,” Lenhart said.
Also, individuals should use strong passwords on websites.
“Don’t use the same password for all your accounts,” the sheriff said.
The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.