As residents head out in search of that perfect gift, they are being asked to keep some safety tips top of mind before braving the malls or even shopping online. Unfortunately, fraudulent activity can be prevalent this time of year, and the DRPS is reminding consumers to be mindful of what they are purchasing and from whom. Store owners and employees are also asked to be aware of fraudulent currency being passed and distraction thefts that can be more common this time of year.
Purchasing Counterfeit Merchandise
Do your research and buy from trusted retailers: Take some time to find out what you're buying and who you're buying it from. Listen to word of mouth, check references and get insight from experienced and trusted retailers If it's too good to be true, it probably is. Everyone loves a deal, but make sure the sale on a quality product is reasonable and not alarmingly low, which could be a potential red flag for a stolen item. There are usually subtle differences in the packaging of counterfeit goods. They include spelling mistakes, colour variations or quality of packaging. Quality is often compromised and the product may not even work when you get it home. Items sold in packages should not be sold individually.
DRPS Investigators are noticing an increase in counterfeit Canadian $100 (new polymer) being used within the Region. The notes look damaged, but some merchants are still accepting them. Store owners and clerks are asked to be mindful of the passing of counterfeit currency.
While shopping, residents should also be aware of distraction thefts. They usually occur in busy places and begin when a suspect starts asking the victim or store employee a series of random questions. This gives a second suspect an opportunity to steal merchandise, purses or wallets from other shoppers. The suspects have often left the store before the theft is detected. These distraction thefts can also take place at the cash counter as the suspect attempts to distract or confuse the clerk into giving back more cash than necessary.
Online Shopping Tips
*Only shop from trusted websites and sources.
* Never give away additional personal information, such as your birthday or SIN. Retailers don't need it for you to make an online purchase.
* Use sites with HTTPS:// in their address bar, not just HTTP://. There should also be a picture of a lock in the taskbar to show the site is secure.
* Create strong passwords that are hard to figure out. Password123 or your birthday aren't going to cut it.
* Don't do holiday shopping from a public computer.
* Check and double check your statements to ensure only your purchases are on it.
* Purchase gift cards directly from the source. Fraudulent cards are sold by scammers every day.
Theft of personal items
The rush of Christmas time increases the opportunity for criminals to take advantage of busy ATM terminals, customer check outs and crowded parking lots. Thieves have been reported to watch vehicles in parking lots, wait for you to put your gifts in the trunk and then follow you to the next store. While you are in the second store, the thieves will try to enter your vehicle. Ensure you safeguard yourself against these people by following these important safety tips.
*Cover your PIN number when paying for merchandise or using an ATM
*Make sure you secure purses, wallets, cash and other valuables while shopping
*Park your vehicle in well-lit areas whenever possible
*Keep all shopping bags locked in the trunk of your vehicle, out of site
*Buy big ticket items, such as electronics, last and head straight home
*If you suspect you are being followed, do not go home, head straight to a police station
*Always lock the doors
Hopefully these tips will help shoppers enjoy a safe, secure and happy holiday season! If you find you were a victim of a fraud or theft please contact police at 905-579-1520.
Holiday Shopping (JPG file, 193.3K bytes)