Online Originals: Stay safe while holiday shopping

Online Originals

When people shop for holiday gifts and sales, they sometimes forget about personal safety.

Sales and buying presents bring more people to shopping centers during the holidays. This could mean more distractions, and puts people at risk for theft.

Crimes spike between Thanksgiving and New Years.

This is because thieves know shoppers are carrying extra cash, and might have presents in their homes or cars.

It’s also getting darker earlier now, which makes it easier for crimes to occur.

“I do know we have a high rate of drug abuse, and people unfortunately result to stealing or scams to support their habits.” 

-Lieutenant Clemmie German, Pitt County Sheriff’s Office

Pitt County Sheriff Paula Dance has released some tips to help keep people safe while they shop.


  1. Never shop alone. Single shoppers are easier targets for a thief.
  2. Let a friend of family member know where you are while shopping, and even tell them what car and clothing you’re wearing.
  3. Try to do your shopping when it’s light out. If you’re shopping at night, park in an area that’s well lit.
  4. Dress comfortable, and don’t wear expensive items.
  5. Keep cash and other items like keys in front pockets, not back.
  6. Watch surroundings and keep clear visibility.
  7. Once back to your car, check around and inside the car for anything suspicious.
  8. Always ask a security guard to walk you to your car if you feel unsafe.

“Leaving your purses unzipped, not covering your PIN when you’re making purchases,” says Pitt County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Clemmie German. “The criminal mind and aspect…they take advantage of that because we’re so distracted with other things.” 


  1. Watch your credit card when using it, and get it back as quickly as you can.
  2. Don’t write your PIN number on the card.
  3. Don’t leave the card or any receipts out in the open.
  4. Hide your card number so people cant take pictures or copy it.
  5. Only carry the cards that you need.
  6. When shopping online, make sure the website is secure.
  7. Don’t send credit card information by email.
  8. Research the company you’re buying from online if you feel uneasy about giving out information.
  9. Always print a copy of online purchases.


  1. Don’t buy gift cards from online auctions. These can be stolen, used, or counterfeit cards.
  2. Buy gift cards from either a store or secure website.
  3. Don’t buy gift cards from public racks in stores.
  4. Check the front and back of the gift card to see if the information has been scratched off and used.
  5. Ask the cashier to scan the gift card in front of you, to make sure the balance is correct.
  6. Keep gift receipts for proof of purchase.
  7. Don’t give out any Social Security numbers, birth dates, or other personal information when buying a gift card.

So what can you do if you feel unsafe?

Lieutenant German says that if you feel unsafe to use your phone or get to a phone and call 911. If you see an area where a security guard is then go to to them for help. She says to watch out for people who might be following you or trying to look at your personal information when making a purchase.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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