Holiday Season Safety Tips
Use these safety and prevention tips to make sure the Grinch doesn’t put a damper on your holiday celebrations. And don’t keep them to yourself. Whether it’s an elderly parent you want to protect from a fraudster, or a teen who just got a new smartphone and needs some device advice, or maybe it's a friend who needs a safe ride home after a holiday party, use the information provided here to start important conversations with friends and family so you can all enjoy a happy and safe holiday season.
Whether you’ll be in line on Black Friday or online on Cyber Monday, the search for holiday deals creates golden opportunities for criminal activity.
- Is it a reputable retailer? Only shop at reputable e-commerce sites. Look for the lock symbol and https at the beginning of the URL, this shows the site uses a secured encryption to protect your data. For more information look at the settings for your internet browser.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of super low deals and look for signs that the email or website you’re dealing with is legitimate. Obvious spelling mistakes, awkward grammar and low resolution images could be signs that something is wrong.
- Meet in public places. When purchasing items from individuals online don’t agree to complete transactions in their home or yours. Instead, arrange to meet in a public place like a mall or coffee shop.
- Have you checked the blacklist? Smartphones IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) should be checked against the CWTA blacklist before purchasing to ensure they aren’t stolen. Find out more about the IMEI and blacklist.
- Free access can come at a huge cost. Most of us use them, but free Wi-Fi hotspots aren’t always a good idea. You can never be sure who the host is and what they are doing with your data. The crooked amongst us may set up hotspots with names awfully similar to a legitimate one, and can in turn, gain access to all your online activity, including, login IDs and passwords. If you must use free Wi-Fi, try and limit what you access, in particular try and avoid accessing banking sites or doing online shopping.. For more #WiseFi tips visit getcybersafe.ca.
Frauds & Scams
Good Will To All? The holidays are a busy time for fraudsters. The
good ones can make a fortune by playing on your seasonal stress levels and your compassion for those in need.
- Know before you click. Don’t click on links in suspicious or unsolicited emails; delete them. This includes e-cards; if you don’t know the sender, delete the email, or if you’re unsure, send your friend an email to verify it’s from them before clicking on the link.
- Don’t be fooled by fraudulent fundraisers. Only donate to reputable and known charitable organizations. Visit Canada Revenue Agency Charities listing if you’re unsure about a charity’s legitimacy.
- Never give out your card number over the phone, text or Internet unless you know you are dealing with a reputable company.
- If you have a chip card, insert first. If the store terminal isn’t chip capable it will prompt you to swipe. This will protect you from having your card skimmed. And always remember to take your card when the transaction is done.
- Make a list of all your cards and their numbers and keep this is a secure place. This key information is helpful when reporting lost or stolen cards.
- More on holiday scams from the Better Business Bureau.
The holiday season is a busy time for couriers, Canada Post and mail thieves. Whether you are sending and receiving parcels and cards, or planning to be out of town for the holidays, make sure your mail is taken care of.
- Don’t leave mail in a mailbox. Collect your mail promptly after delivery.
- Plan ahead. If you'll be away, let Canada Post hold your mail until you return.
- Ruin the surprise. If you’re sending a valuable package to a friend or loved one, let them know when to expect it so they will know if it doesn’t show up.
- When you move make sure your mail moves with you. File a change of address with the post office and advise your banks and other companies of your new address.
- Pay attention to monthly billing cycles. If your bills fail to arrive on time, contact companies immediately to ensure bills have not been fraudulently redirected.
- Don’t just recycle. Shred documents that contain personal financial information, such as statements and credit card offers.
- For more tips on mail theft prevention, visit Canada Post’s website.
Theft from vehicles
The crowds are flocking to malls and shopping centres. And that means parking lots are jam-packed with cars that are jam-packed with gifts. A target-rich environment for thieves; and a potential disaster for you
- Avoid dark and secluded parking spots. When you are out shopping, park in well-lit, busy places where your vehicle is easily seen by others passing by
- Don't leave a trace. Leaving a GPS suction cup on your windshield (or even the mark it leaves on your windshield when you've removed it) could lead a thief to think that your GPS unit is somewhere inside the vehicle. It is recommended that you put away the whole unit, including the suction cup, and make sure no trace is left on your windshield.
- Protect yourself from identity fraud. Protect your insurance and registration documents as well as your garage door opener. Nowadays, having your vehicle documents stolen could lead to identity theft. Criminals could also use your garage opener with the information on your registration papers found in your vehicle to break in to your house. Carrying them on your person is the best way to prevent this from happening.
- Don’t use your vehicle as a storage locker. While you are shopping for gifts in stores, thieves are
shoppingfor gifts in the parking lot. Making trips to your car to drop off parcels is an open invitation that criminals will be only too happy to accept.
- LOCK your vehicle. Rolling up all the windows, locking all the doors, and keeping all valuables out of sight are the most effective ways to keep thieves out.
- More tips on preventing your car being broken into.
Protect your home
Excited about that getaway you’ve been planning for months? So are the thieves who spend their holiday season looking for empty houses and untended vehicles so they can help themselves to your stuff.
- Stop your newspaper, mail and other home delivery. You may have to do it days ahead of your vacation. A pile of uncollected newspapers at your front door is a hint for thieves that no one is home, and stolen mail is one of the major sources of identity theft.
- Wait before posting those fab holiday pics on Facebook. Broadcasting you are on vacation through social media, such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, is generally not a good idea, even if you have a high privacy setting.
- Ask a trusted neighbor to watch out for visitors to your house. Provide your neighbor with your contact number in the event of a problem.
- Lock up. Make sure your windows and doors are secured with the appropriate type of locks.
- Install timers in different areas of your house to turn lights and radios on and off at different times. Thieves may think someone is at home and find other, easier targets.
- Know your neighbours. Become involved in your neighbourhood Block Watch program or if there isn’t one, look into starting one. Find out more about getting involved with Block Watch.
- Visit our web page for more Home Security Info & Tips.
Smart party planning
You’ve probably planned menus, outfits, dates and decorations for your holiday parties…but have you planned to keep yourself, your loved ones and your community safe from impaired driving?
- Plan ahead. Encourage your guests to plan ahead for a safe way home before they arrive. Suggest they leave the car at home and take a taxi or transit. If they insist on driving ensure they have a plan to get home safely, like having a designated driver.
- Be a responsible host. Have the phone number of the local taxi company or Operation Red Nose to help your guests get home safely.
- Be kind to designated drivers. Have non-alcoholic beverages available for drivers. If you're feeling especially crafty in the kitchen try making a simple mocktail, like the Cranberry-Apple Cider punch or Grinch punch.
Community Safety Tips
- Auto Theft Info & Tips
- Bike Theft Prevention Information & Tips
- Business Security Info & Tips
- Fall/Winter safety tips
- Frauds & Scams Info & Tips
- Home Security Info & Tips
- Identity Theft Info & Tips
- Internet Safety Info & Tips
- Tips to Protect Yourself
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