Fri | Feb 28, 2020

Some tips to keep you safe this Christmas

Published:Friday | November 11, 2016 | 12:00 AM
George Overton

Christmas is a magical time of the year. Think lights, decorations and treats for the young and young at heart. However, there are many hazards that lurk behind the merriment.

If you shop online or at the mall, you are at risk of falling victim to identity and other forms of theft.

According to Commander George Overton, director of operations at the Guardsman Group, whether you do your shopping online or in stores, it is important to remember basic safety tips to protect yourself and your possessions.

"Like everyone else during the Christmas season, the criminal elements also want more money. They know businesses and persons alike will have more cash flow and the probability of them fleecing more from unsuspecting individuals is higher. In reality, most of us have more money on us during this time because of the heightened activity and spending," Overton said.

While you might have your eyes set on snagging the next big deal in the store, burglars are looking for ways to break in while you are away from the home.

Similarly, online thieves are out in full force, ready to capitalise on the millions of online shoppers who are using their private credit card information.

Overton indicated that persons shopping online must ensure they are using a legitimate website to conduct their business.

"There are many persons who create illegitimate websites mirroring the legitimate ones and then take advantage of persons' information. Persons shopping online should try to use one credit card and one that, if something should happen, the loss would be minimal," he said.

"They should also monitor their credit cards every day to ensure there are no illegal transactions and, if so, they can detect it early and take the necessary steps," he added.

When in doubt, think like a robber. How would they get in? Does it look like someone is home? Where are your valuables? Use common sense and remember these easy home security tips and ensure your possessions will be safe while you are out.

Keep these basic safety tips in mind:

• Lock everything. This seems obvious, but more often than you would expect, a burglar gets into a house because something was left unlocked.

• Secure valuables. Never leave anything of value out in plain sight.

• Carefully manage your social media posts. Though you might be tempted to broadcast to the world about how excited you are for your holiday travels, resist the urge to let the world know that you are not going to be home.

Many people cannot seem to wait to let everyone on Facebook or Twitter know that they are about to leave home and this is a dangerous thing to share.

• Leave the lights on. This might not be the most energy-efficient advice, but the more it looks like someone is home, the less likely it is that someone will try to intrude.

• Activate your alarm system. Again, while it may seem obvious, you might be distracted and you could be in a rush to get out the door.

Don't forget to arm your security system this simple step will go a far way to protect your home and possessions.