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How can I Stay Safe During Holiday Shopping?

The most important elements of staying safe during holiday shopping are awareness and common sense. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash, and keep your receipts in your wallet rather than in the shopping bags; it may also be a good idea to leave your purse at home, if you carry one, and keep your money and other items on your person. Dress casually and wear comfortable shoes in case you need to move quickly. It's also a good idea to stick to familiar stores or shopping malls, and know where the security office is located. Being alert to your surroundings and avoiding precarious situations are vital.

The first tip is something you can do before you even venture out on a holiday shopping trip: avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Put some cash in your pocket, or better yet, distribute it between several secure pockets, but never pull out a large sum of cash where others can see it. Doing so will create temptation and you could put yourself in danger. Also, be sure to collect receipts after purchases and don't leave them in the bag; many receipts contain account numbers or personal information that can be used for identity theft.

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It is also a good idea to dress casually, so that you can move around easily. Women should leave high heels at home during a holiday shopping trip. If you are forced to flee a dangerous situation, it is much easier to run if you're wearing flat shoes instead of heels. You might also want to leave your purse at home to avoid having it stolen. Try to keep shopping cards, credit cards, checkbooks, and the like on your person during holiday shopping, and wear a jacket or coat that has pockets where you can store keys and other items that you generally keep in your purse.

Do your holiday shopping at malls and stores that you are familiar with, or at least avoid unknown areas if you intend to shop alone. Avoid out of the way areas, such as long hallways or dark corners, even when indoors. Make sure you know the location of the security office in a mall or store before you begin your holiday shopping and bring a cell phone along with you as well, so you can call for help if necessary.

Be alert in parking lots. Try to park as close to lights and entrances as possible, and note where you parked, even if you have to write it down. It is still good to have someone else accompany you if possible, even when visiting shopping centers where you feel comfortable. Holiday shopping can be an enjoyable experience, but unfortunately, holiday sales also tend to lure those that hope to take advantage of other shoppers.

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