Police departments across the US are ramping up staff to combat holiday crime this year. Atlanta Police Department (APD) statistics show that the highest number of crimes in 2014 occurred in December of last year.
In lieu of the increase in crime during the holidays, it’s important to be aware and take precautions to protect yourself! We’ve listed some tips below to help you avoid being a target for criminals during the Christmas season — and what to do if you are a victim of a crime.
Tips to avoid being a target for crime:
- In general, be aware of your surroundings. It is recommended for women to carry purses under their arms, and also for men to carry their wallets in a jacket or front pocket. Avoid carrying large sums of cash around with you.
- If you’re out shopping, be sure to park in a well lit area, and leave purchases in the trunk instead of a visible place in your car. Check out these 5 ways to keep your car secure this holiday season.
- If you’re traveling, be sure to keep an eye on all of your belongings, and make sure loved ones know exactly where you are. In addition, check out these 7 travel safety tips to stay safe!
- If you’re shopping online, check out this online shopping guide to keep your money and identity safe online!
- If you’re having packages delivered, try to have them delivered to your office or to a family member who will be home during the day. Also, check out these other tips for safe package delivery.
What to do if your wallet is stolen
- Call the police immediately. You’ll want to give them any information regarding the theft. In some cases, they might be able to get your belongings back.
- Freeze your credit. Freezing your credit might be the best way to avoid identity theft. (For a guide on how to do this, click here.)
- Call your bank. Let them know a theft has occurred. You’ll want to have them change your account numbers and debt card numbers.
- Call your credit card companies. Let them know what happened. They will be able to change your credit card numbers immediately and send you a new card, many times within one business day!
Bonus tip: If you want to protect your money, avoid using a debit card during the holidays (and really any time of year). Debit cards do not have the same protections as credit cards. If a criminal gains access to your account — by stealing your information either online or somewhere you used your debit card — and empties your account, you’re pretty much out of luck and should consider that money gone. For more information, here are 9 places you should never use a debit card.
One way to minimize your risk is to check your bank and credit card statements daily. That way, if you see anything that looks funny or that you don’t recognize, you can report it immediately and minimize any further damage.
What to do if a package is stolen from your doorstep
- First, be sure to look thoroughly around your door or garage to make sure the package isn’t somewhere nearby or hasn’t fallen behind some shrubs.
- Call the shipping company. It could be that the package is
- Call the police to report the theft. You’ll want to let them know that a theft has occurred.
- Unfortunately, if the package isn’t insured, there generally isn’t a lot you can do. That’s a good reason to make sure your packages are sent with insurance, or follow these other steps to make sure someone will be around when the package is delivered.
What to do if you are a victim of identity theft
- Contact all three credit bureaus and issue a fraud alert. Check your credit report six months later and look for items you don’t recognize.
- Provide a copy of your driver’s license to each agency’s fraud unit in order to register an affidavit.
- Contact the proper authorities in writing, via certified receipt request.
- Inform your local police department, Social Security Administration and all creditors with whom you have accounts.
Read more: Identity Theft Guideâ€‹