Enjoy the Black Friday Sales
With These Shopping Safety Tips
The day after Thanksgiving has long been known as Black Friday. The reason it got its name is because of a simple bookkeeping technique. When a company is losing money, the numbers on its accounts have historically been written in red. Once the company begins to make a profit, the numbers are written in black. Many retailers do not make a profit during the year until holiday shopping begins. And, of course, the big kick-off for holiday shopping is the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday is often a day of huge holiday sales, and it is also the first day of the year for many retailers to begin showing a profit.
However, in our enthusiasm to get the best deals possible, we sometimes forget to be concerned about our personal safety. These tips will allow you to stay safe and enjoy the sales at the same time.
This is one reason why there are so many bargains available on Black Friday. The retailers all know that they have to make as much money as possible during the holiday season, or they will not show a profit for the entire year. They also know that the only way they can sell their products is to get the customers into their stores. The best way to do that is with huge discounts and exciting Black Friday ads.
All this shopping excitement and extravagant spending sounds like a lot of fun. The discounts are so dramatic, that many people spend Black Friday driving from store to store, intent on getting as much of their Christmas shopping done as possible. They fill up their cars with the items they want, often carrying huge armloads of boxes and bags to the car, and placing their purchases in the trunk or backseat. While the shoppers are preoccupied, anyone who is interested can easily observe them.
In addition to all the packages that we are loading into our cars, most of us will spend Black Friday, and the following few weeks, driving around town, making repeated trips to the ATM, shopping in crowded malls, and being completely distracted with everything we have to accomplish. The last thing on our minds is the possibility that we could be injured or robbed. Unfortunately, nothing will put a damper on your Christmas spirit like an encounter with a mugger or the discovery that your car or home has been broken into and all your carefully purchased bargains have been stolen.
Personal Protection While Shopping
Here are some tips for keeping yourself safe on your shopping trips. First, when you go to the stores, make plans to enjoy your holiday shopping with a few of your friends or family members. Not only will it be more fun, but it will also be safer. When possible, go shopping dressed as you would for a workout. Wear comfortable shoes, and leave the expensive jewelry and purses at home. Don't pull lots of cash out of your wallet. Be discreet with your money. If you use a debit card, conceal your PIN number when you enter it. If your credit card is stolen, notify the credit card company as quickly as possible. When eating out, do not leave your purse hanging on the back of a chair. My sister had her purse stolen once while out to dinner and, before the meal was over and she discovered that it was missing, the thieves had already charged over $1500 in purchases to her credit cards! Pay attention and keep your purse in your sight at all times.
Don't Attract Car Thieves
When driving in your car, or parking in a parking lot, you should pay close attention to your surroundings. Park as close to the stores as possible, in well-lit areas, where there are likely to be many other shoppers nearby. Try to do as much of your shopping as possible during the day. It is more difficult to spot potential thieves in a dark parking lot. Do not leave valuables visible on the seat of your car. The interior of your car should look absolutely empty. Do not leave your cell phone, iPod, computer, or any purchases lying in plain sight. Lock everything in your trunk ... but not while strangers are watching! If you think someone may have been observing you while you loaded your car, do not immediately walk away and return to the mall. Instead, take those items home, and return later. If you can't do that, drive away and park somewhere else in the mall parking lot. The extra driving could foil a crime that would have ruined your holidays. If you are shopping and feel uncomfortable about returning to your car alone, ask mall security to accompany you. They don't want you robbed or injured, either! If your arms are full, you are very vulnerable to a mugger.
Use Caution at the ATM
When you need to use an ATM, think carefully about where it is located. Are you getting out of your car alone at night in an empty bank parking lot? This is dangerous. Thieves could be hiding, waiting for someone vulnerable to come along. Instead, use ATM's that are inside well-lit shopping malls and businesses. When I need cash in the evening, I prefer to use the ATM inside my busy grocery store, or I ask for cash back when I make a purchase. While using your debit card, shield your PIN number from view when you use the keypad. Keep your ATM receipt ... don't leave it behind. Slip your cash into your wallet discreetly, so that nearby strangers will not be able to tell the amount of cash you have taken. Finally, don't forget to take your ATM card out of the machine!
Don't Display Your Gifts in the Window
Don't forget to practice safety around your home, too! Many people love to set up their Christmas tree in the front window of their home, and surround it with all the beautifully wrapped gifts they will soon be handing out. That can be an invitation to thieves to simply come in and rob you as soon as you walk out the door. Although it may be fun and decorative to place your Christmas tree in front of the large window in your living room, thieves will be tempted to peak in and look for wrapped boxes under the tree!
There are other potential problems that can arise during the holidays. For example, it's easy to become distracted and rush out of your house without locking up properly. Take a moment to walk around the house and make sure the doors and windows are locked. Be certain that gifts and expensive equipment are not easily visible from the front door. If you have an alarm system, use it.
If you travel during the holidays, and plan to be gone for a few days or longer, leave some interior lights on timers, and ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your house. It is important that someone collects your mail, newspapers and any packages that may be delivered while you are gone. Be especially cautious about door-to-door sales people or solicitors for charities. Most legitimate charities will not send people to your home, so it is probably not wise to open your door to unidentified and unexpected strangers. Remember that it is your home. You are under no obligation to open your door to someone you do not know.
Be cautious and careful on Black Friday and during the few weeks that follow. You do not want your holiday excitement ruined by carelessness or criminals.
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