Tip of the Week: Black Friday and Cyber Monday Shopping Tips

In just a few days, many shoppers will be out early to find those big bargains on Black Friday or online for Cyber Monday, but the criminals will be out too.  Here are some great tips to help you shop safely while getting those great holiday bargains throughout the holiday season.

  • Do not buy more than you can carry. Plan ahead by taking a friend with you.
  • Shop online with companies you know and trust. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Save all receipts. Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases.
  • Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as one time or multi-use disposable credit cards or money orders, at online stores and auction sites.
  • Deter pickpockets.Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
  • Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
  • Do not leave packages visible in your car windows.Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home.
  • If you are doing late night shopping ask an employee to walk you to your car or wait for another group of shoppers to leave at the same time as you do.  Remember there is safety in numbers.
  • If you are having packages delivered while you are at work consider having the packages delivered to your work, or to a neighbor who is home during the day or ask a neighbor to watch for the packages and bring them in when they arrive.  There have been reports of packages in Pine Hollow being taken from front doors or items missing from the packages

 

Tip of the Week – Holiday Shopping Scams

The holiday season has enough stress without worrying about what scams con artists are dreaming up, but a little awareness can go a long way in making sure your holidays stay merry and bright. First, slow down and use caution when purchasing gifts, booking travel and signing on for seasonal employment opportunities.  Second, watch closely for the delivery of purchased items as thieves are becoming more and more aggressive targeting delivery trucks and stealing packages left on front porches.

Tip of the Week: Flood Insurance Robocalls

When there is panic, heartbreak and loss, criminals are waiting in the wings to take advantage of confusion and heightened emotions. Hurricane Harvey is no exception. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), homeowners and renters are getting robocalls telling them their flood premiums are past due. In order to have coverage, customers are told they need to submit a payment immediately.  Don’t do it! Instead, contact your insurance agent.  If you suspect fraud, call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline toll free at 1-866-720-5721.  Also report it to the FTC.

Tip of the Week – Things you should know before confronting a car burglar

If you find a person breaking into your vehicle, while you are at home, there is no controlling case law that says you are allowed to use deadly force against a car burglar.  You could be put in the position of being the test case for whether or not your actions are allowed under Texas law. Remember, use of force must be reasonable, it has to be immediately necessary, and it should be proportional to the amount of force that the person is committing against you.

One issue is the misrepresentation on the Internet about the “castle doctrine”. The “castle doctrine” is not a law; it is a concept discussed largely in the media. Section 9.41 of the Texas Penal Code is what governs when deadly force may be used to protect property. So, while holding someone at gunpoint is potentially something that you are allowed to do when you find someone burglarizing your vehicle, keep in mind that the ultimate authority on whether or not it is allowed is a jury of your peers, or a judge. You decide, is that stolen pair of sunglasses worth all of that? Prevent theft, lock your car doors.

Tip of the Week – What is Smishing?

Bad guys are increasingly targeting you through your smartphone. They are no longer satisfied with email fraud, and they’re switching to phone and text scams. They send texts that trick you into doing something against your own best interest. At the moment, there is a mystery shopping scam going on, starting out with a text invitation, asking you to send an email for more information which then gets you roped into the scam.

Always, when you get a text, remember to “Think Before You Tap”, because more and more, texts are used for identity theft, bank account take-overs and to pressure you into giving out personal or company confidential information.  Here is a short video made by USA Today that shows how this works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffck9C4vqEM

Imposter scams come in many varieties, but work the same way: a scammer pretends to be someone trustworthy, such as a government official or computer technician to convince a consumer to send money.