Here we are in the midst of another seasonal celebration and most are looking forward to the festive times ahead, spending time with family and friends and celebrating life with those that are important to us! There are some out there looking forward to these happy holidays for quite the wrong reasons, I am referring to the thieves and fraudsters who actively swindle others out of money or good, in one way or another.

At this time of year, we are a little distracted, there is so much to do, so much to think of and even though we have may have regimented lists and individual spending budgets, we can sometimes forget about safety and security around us.

If you are going Christmas shopping for gifts, try to do so in an organized manner, know where you would like to go and what you want to get, for very expensive items you can pre-pay at most consumer outlets via the internet from home or on a mobile device to then collect from store, this lessens the risk of carrying large amounts of cash around with you –  we can use a debit or credit card for payments but there are risks with these too by illegal skimming devices being attached to ATMs.

It only takes a second to clone your card so whilst out shopping and paying for goods or services, make sure to keep an eye on where your card is going, it should never need to go out of your sight and only be used in the one payment machine per transaction.

If you are not having your pricey items delivered, be sure to keep them with you at all times, perhaps you are going for food or sitting down at a cafe where your attention could be elsewhere – keep the items within plain site, most thieves are opportunists and will not miss out on the chance of a quick buck, and there is nothing easier to move on and sell than with brand new items in bags just ready to snatch away off into the crowd, if they have the receipts and are not apprehended in time they could even go back to the stores for cash refunds or exchanges.

If you are storing your items in your car, don’t leave them in plain sight whilst away shopping; bags of gifts are easy to snatch away just as in the same with the cafe scenario above, albeit with the added loss with a broken window. Keep your items in the boot or covered up if in the main cab and try to park in a brightly lit, CCTV surveyed and covered environment or busy public space with plenty of people about.

Petty thieves will not only target those out shopping but also their attention will be on residential households and businesses too, we have all heard of people who steal deliveries dropped off by couriers on their porches, there is another crook who will willingly break into your residence and steal all the gifts from under the tree! Keep the tree and gifts out of sight or just bring the gifts out for display and giving on Christmas eve, away from view from windows.

There are also some who will prey on those with a good heart in the way of donations to a said charity or organisation, but they just take the money themselves and it does not go toward good causes, they can do this by obtaining charity boxes and asking for cash. If you do donate in this way, be wary and look for the carriers ID as they should be wearing one or have some sort of paperwork for whom they are collecting for.

Not everything appears as it first is so without being overly paranoid, do be aware of your surroundings when out and about shopping for festive gifts as this time of year is a busy season, not only for us and Santa but for the criminals too…