While walking into our local mall recently, I could not help but notice a woman on her cell phone. For a full five minutes she did not look up once from her screen. Not only did she not look up, but she was walking. It was clear that she had no awareness of her surroundings, and she was clearly distracted. She might have been a prime target for some possible scams.
According to Jason Willingham from the Tulsa, Oklahoma Police Department, criminals tend to strike more during the holiday season because they know there are many people out holiday shopping.
It is a good idea to be extra aware and alert for suspicious criminal activity, especially during the holiday season.
Becky Maier is the public relations director at the Better Bureau (BB) of Western Pennsylvania. She offers some common criminal activities that you can look out for.
Common Holiday Crimes to Look Out For
- Scam Shopping Sites Online
If the price was too good to be true, then it probably is. Sites will boast of great prices for favorite brands like Toms, The North Face, and Lululemon. Shoppers at these scam websites will pay for the cheaper prices, but never receive their packages in the mail.When you shop online make sure there is always a phone number to call for customer service and not just an email. You want to make sure they have a secure payment option on their site. Another helpful tool to avoid online scams is to read reviews. You can also check out the business with the Better Business Bureau® (BBB) to confirm the company is a legitimate business.
- Searching for the Hottest Toys Online
This holiday season, I went to buy a coat and it was completely sold out at the store and online. I liked this specific coat so much I was tempted to go to sites like Craigslist and eBay to see if I could find it there. This can be an easy target for some scammers. They will take hot items, place them on these sites at much higher prices. They can even take your money and run. It’s important to be aware of what you are buying. Getting that coat at the risk of theft was not worth it to me.
- Identity Theft at the Mall
The mall is a great target for distracted shoppers will lots of bags in hand. Especially, ones that haven’t looked up from their phones. These are great opportunities to steal your wallet and debit or credit card numbers. My friend had her wallet stolen from her right under her nose at a local Target store because she was distracted taking care of her baby.While we can’t prevent all theft from happening, we can help to make it more difficult. Maier suggests that you cover the keypad when you are entering your pin number while purchasing items or getting money at the ATM.
When doing your holiday shopping, it is important to be aware and alert and not to let distractions cause you to lose track of valuables.
Consumers who feel they may have been a victim of a criminal act during the holidays should report it to their local authorities right away. In addition, they should file a complaint with the BBB.
If you are being charged with a criminal act and need representation, please contact us or give our office a call.
248-348-7400 or 586-530-1000