–Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid dimly lit or isolated areas.
–If you are carrying a bag keep it close to your body and in front of you at all times.
–Do not carry large amounts of cash and limit the number of credit cards to only what is necessary.
–If your wallet or handbag is demanded from you, throw the item as far as you can and then flee in the opposite direction.
–Consider carrying a personal alarm device.
Safety on the street
–Plan ahead and avoid danger spots such as isolated or poorly lit alleys or parking lots, which can create opportunities for criminals to operate out of sight.
–When walking on a sidewalk, stay on the side closest to the street. Be sure to create a space between yourself and any shrubbery, dark doorways, trees and shadows.
–Avoid passing stationary cars with their engines running and people sitting in them.
–Be extra vigilant when using an ATM. Watch out for anyone hovering nearby and never count your money within public view. Return to your vehicle or a public place as quickly as possible.
–Do not keep all of your valuables in one place.
–Plan your journey carefully. Know what route you are taking and let other people know where you are going and when you hope to arrive.
–Have a map or GPS in the car so you don’t have to stop and ask for directions.
–Never leave your keys in the ignition while you are out of the car for any reason. Keep the doors locked when you are driving and keep bags and other valuables out of sight.
–If someone approaches your car while stopped, never roll the window down. If you feel threatened sound the horn and flash your lights to attract attention. Drive off if possible.
–Avoid breaking down in dangerous areas by serving your car regularly.
–Avoid using poorly lit parking spaces.
–Reverse into the parking space, if possible, and hide all valuables.
–Lock the doors and shut your windows.
–When returning to your car, have your keys ready. Scan under the car and inside your car before getting in. Lock your doors once you are inside.
Consumer protection tips
–Read sales ads and coupons carefully to make sure you understand any limitations.
–Look for price-matching policies.
–Pay attention to the scanner during checkout to be sure you were properly charged and be sure to save your receipts.
–Find out refund and return policies before you purchase your items.
–If you’re planning to use lay-away, be sure you understand the policy and be sure to follow the terms.
–Pay by credit card to give yourself the best protection for disputing unauthorized charges.
–Shop online only with companies you know and trust. When going to a company’s website, type in the website. Don’t click on one that pops up on your company because that may take you to a fake website.
–Keep a paper copy of whatever you order online and the confirmation number for your records, so you can track it down if the order does not arrive.
Sources: Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Agency.
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