Do your Christmas shopping securely

Love it or hate it, Christmas shopping is one of those tasks that epitomises the run up to the big day and with both gift and food shopping to be done, it can start to become a mammoth task. Luckily online shopping has made this a little easier, with a lot of research and ordering done from home, without ever having to set foot in a retail store. It’s important to be safe while Christmas shopping online, as it is relatively easy to fall victim to a scam and end up out of pocket. Always check that the website you are using has a URL (web address) that starts with https://. This means it’s a secure server and most importantly, a legitimate site. Some online scammers spoof web addresses which look a lot like the real thing, but are not, leaving your personal and financial details vulnerable. If you can, use PayPal or a credit card as these payment methods offer more protection and don’t share your payment details with the company you’re buying from.

Another common technological scam is the sending of text messages advising that a parcel delivery has been attempted. The text message asks you to click on a link to re-arrange delivery, or to enter a verification code which many people fall for, having ordered a few things online during this time of year. Clicking the link opens you up to viruses and hackers, so always be sceptical of messages from unknown senders. Some of these messages look legitimate, but if in doubt check it out. There are many sites online which detail these scams so you can double check whether a message is legitimate or not.

Having items delivered is very convenient, but it can lead to theft of packages left in sight of the street. If possible, have items delivered to your work address, or to a friend or relative who will be in to accept it. Parcels left in plain sight are an opportunist’s best friend and there is often no recourse for people who have had items stolen in this way. If you’re going to be out then don’t be tempted to leave a note for the delivery person, this is an advertisement to burglars that you’re going to be out, allowing them to break in at their leisure as well as steal your ordered items.

If you do Christmas shopping in town or at a retail park don’t be tempted to put items in your car and carry on shopping – thieves will scout out car parks and watch for people doing this, then steal your gifts before you get a chance to get them home. If you must do this, put items in the boot and ensure they are covered so they’re not an attractive target.

Similarly, don’t store your gifts in your car boot, shed or garage in the run up to Christmas. You just want to keep them secret from the recipients, but these are all places thieves look first when they’re doing their version of Christmas shopping. It’s better to potentially mar the surprise by keeping your gifts in the house where prying eyes may find them, than to completely spoil Christmas by having your gifts stolen. The same principle applies to putting wrapped gifts under the tree – burglars see this and think they’ve hit the jackpot, so try to keep your tree out of sight and leave the presents for the last minute. It’s actually more exciting to come down on Christmas morning to find all the presents which have appeared overnight.

It goes without saying that you should set your burglar alarm every time you go out, even if it’s just for a quick trip to the shops, and this is especially important around Christmas to act as another deterrent to would-be burglars. If you follow our advice and keep security at the forefront of your mind, you’ll have a Christmas to remember for all the right reasons.