The time has come, once again, for the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. While we all look forward to this time of year, criminals especially do as well. They rely on us being excited, relaxed and distracted. In an effort to keep our information safe, we must be overly aware during this time of year.
During the holidays, traveling increases by 54%. That’s a lot of empty homes waiting for criminals to do their work. Here are just a few tips to keep your home safe while traveling:
- Only tell one close family member or friend that you are traveling out of town. This one person should be the one to check on your home while you are away. Having them enter your home one or two times daily would be ideal. Although they are busy as well, this will make it look like someone is there frequently.
- Do not post on social media your travel schedule. Although you think only friends and family can see this information, you are incorrect. You can take pictures and still update on the fun your having, just do it responsibly. No one needs to know you are half way across the country.
- Put your lights on timers, inside and out. If your lights are popping on and off throughout the day, anyone watching your house will tend to believe someone is home. You can get the timers from any home improvement store and they do not take long to install.
- A small final tip from my parents! Turn off your main water line before leaving. You do not want to come back to a flooded, moldy home due to a small hole in a water line. Trust me, it was not fun! Once you return from traveling, you just want to be in your own bed. If this water line break occurs, you will be back in a hotel for weeks.
Wallet and Identity
I group the wallet and identity together as the items utilized to steal your identity are generally located in your wallet. Here are just a few suggestions for keeping your information safe while you are enjoying the shopping frenzy:
- Pay with cash as often as you can. We’ve all seen the security issues with credit card machines. This can happen at any retail store. Avoid giving your card information out and pay with cash. If you do not want to carry cash, get gift cards with cash and use the gift cards instead of using your debit/credit card.
- If paying with cash, ensure you place your cash close to your person when out shopping. Put the cash in the pockets of your jeans or in a place where you would notice or feel someone trying to take the cash from you. Do not place it in your purse on a cart where you would turn your attention away, for even a second. All it takes is a second to turn your head away and your purse is gone.
- Along with the cash, put all identification (driver’s license, social security card, credit cards) information in your pockets as well. Always make sure your information is close enough so you will know if someone is trying to get to these items.
- When pulling out your cash to pay, do not pull out the large stack of bills and count it out in an obvious manner. You may not realize how closely people are watching you, but criminals are watching every move as this is their job.
- As you are buying your items, try to condense the amounts of packages you are carrying. Any bags that can be combined, do so. The more you are carrying, the more vulnerable you appear.
- When you take your items to your car to drop them off and start off again, we all do it, make sure you cover the items with either a blanket or a screen. Do not leave anything out in the open in your vehicle.
The holidays are fun and happy time of the year. Do not let criminals make this time stressful for you. Small adjustments can keep your home, wallet and identity safe. Always be aware of your surroundings, trust your gut, and keep your personal information personal.
Lauth Investigations International is a private investigation firm. We consistently work with people whose identity has been compromised. The one minute it took a criminal to steal their information created months of stress for these individuals to recover. Do not let this happen to you.