While Black Friday is a day many people look forward to more than any other shopping day of the year, the day after Thanksgiving also brings all of the crooks out of the woodwork. Not only are crooks ready to turn your holiday shopping into a disaster, there are often scuffles and arguments among shoppers in some cases. While it’s a fun experience for lots of people in Michigan and throughout the U.S., it can also be a day that increases stress and anxiety levels. We have a few tips to help you enjoy the day and protect your own safety, as well as your finances.
If possible, go shopping with a few friends or family members. It’s true there’s safety in numbers; a would-be thief will think twice before targeting a group of three or four people. If you’re obviously alone, you’re an easier target.
Upon arriving at your destination, take a close look around the parking lot before you exit your vehicle. Pay attention. Is there anyone or anything that seems suspicious in your vicinity? If so, stay in your car with the doors locked, or better yet, leave the area for a while if you suspect any possible danger.
Never leave your purse on the front seat in plain view, even when driving to your destination. Put it in the trunk, under a seat, or in a location where it’s out of sight. It isn’t beyond a criminal to attempt to rob you at a stop light or in a parking lot!
Inside the stores, avoid aisles that are super-crowded. Some shoppers seem to develop a mob-like mentality when it comes to getting those last few dwindling products on the shelves. Every Black Friday there are people who are injured in the crowds, so try to avoid the chaos. Also be sure to have 911 on your speed dial.
If you can carry your cash/credit card on you, leave your purse in the trunk of your car – or even better, at home. If you do have to take your purse with you, make sure you can wear it in a way that crosses your body so it can’t be easily lifted from your shoulder.
Going to multiple shopping centers or malls? Be sure to put your packages in the trunk or other area where they’re out of sight and not easily visible to anyone walking by your vehicle in the parking lot. Thieves love to steal all those goodies you’ve spent your hard-earned dollars on. Never think it won’t happen to you – this is what every victim believes.
When heading to the car with your purchases, have your keys ready – and look thoroughly around and inside your vehicle before entering.
If possible, make your purchases with a single credit card and leave large wads of cash at home. It isn’t safe to carry hundreds of dollars, and using a single credit card makes things much easier if it gets stolen as you only have once card to cancel.
When paying with a credit/debit card, keep it out of sight of others in line or behind you. Also use your hand for cover when keying in a PIN number.
Try not to load yourself down with so many shopping bags and packages that it’s hard to navigate your way to the car. This makes it harder to pay attention to your surroundings – and it will be difficult to defend yourself should some unsavory character try to take your purchases, wallet, or purse.
We all look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday to spend time with family, relax, and of course stuff ourselves with all that delicious food. Some are even more excited about the start of the Christmas shopping season, Black Friday. Just remember it’s a zoo out there! Be extra cautious, use common sense, take along a buddy or two, and stay safe.