The holidays are upon us and you, the consumers, are bombarded with ads for discounted merchandise, free shipping and other special deals. Shopping during the holiday season may present unique dangers and busy people can become careless and vulnerable to theft and other holiday crimes.

Consider these tips as you prepare to shop this holiday season.

Shopping in Stores
• Do not buy more than you can carry.
• Save all receipts together to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they arrive.
• Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as one-time use or virtual credit cards numbers, money orders or online stores.
• Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook.
• Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
• Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package.

Shopping with Small Children
• If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you are separated from each other.
• Select a central meeting place.
• Teach them to know they can ask mall personnel or store security employees if they need help.

Parking Lot
• Do not carry large amounts of cash; use checks, credit/debit cards to make purchases.
• Use automated teller machines in highly populated areas.
• Try not to use your phone or text when walking through a parking lot.
• Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason.
• Shop during daylight hours instead of at night.
• Carry your car key fob in hand to be used as a personal alarm.
• Do not leave purchased items visible in your vehicle.
• Do not wear expensive jewelry.

On-line
• When in doubt, throw it out. Delete links in emails, tweets, posts, and online advertising.
• Think before you act. Be wary of offers of amazing deals that sound too good to be true or implore you to act immediately.
• Make sure the site is legitimate. A closed padlock on your web browser's address bar or a Uniform Resource Locator address that begins with shttp or https. This indicates that the purchase is encrypted or secured.
• Protect your personal information. Check the website's privacy policy and how your information will be stored and used.
• Keep a paper trail. Save records of your online transactions, check your credit card statements for any unauthorized charges and report discrepancy to your bank immediately.

Try following these tips, so you can have a safe and secure holiday shopping season!