Five Tips for Safe Shopping

By Beth Sanderson

It’s that time of year again, and if you’re like me, you’ve got some last minute gifts to grab. Everyone needs to be a bit more careful, this time of year, but for those of us that are blind or low vision, there’s an added level of concern. Thankfully, there are a few tips we can use to keep crooks from spoiling our holiday cheer.

  • Don’t shop alone! – I know we all enjoy our sense of independence, but this is one time it’s safer for everyone to shop together. Thieves and con artists will target people shopping alone, and as sad as it is to say, if they think you’re weaker, because you can’t see, that puts a larger target on your back. There is definitely safety in numbers!
  • Don’t load yourself down. – Don’t try to juggle twenty shopping bags, when you move from store to store. Make frequent stops at the car, and leave some of those bags there. Not only is it bad for your back, but thieves can target someone who’s loaded down, and steal your bags, wallet or purse.
  • Don’t leave stuff in view – So yeah, leave that stuff in the car, but don’t just pile it up in the back seat. Put it in the trunk, or cover it with jackets, or a blanket. Set it down in the floorboards, and keep it out of sight. This will reduce the chances of someone trying to break into the car to steal your shopping.
  • Don’t flash around that cash! – People recommend using cash during the holidays to limit the amount you spend while shopping, but be smart. Don’t use an ATM if there are any suspicious characters hanging out around it, and don’t stop at one that isn’t well lit. Likewise, don’t flash around all your cash. That’s just asking for trouble. I recommend purchasing one of those prepaid gift cards you can use anywhere, like Visa or MasterCard. You can control how much goes on it, and you’re not fooling with cash. A bonus to the gift cards is there are usually no usage fees, besides the initial cost of the card. Also, if you lose it, or it’s stolen, you’re only out the money that was left on the card, and whoever finds it doesn’t have access to your bank information.
  • Shop at trusted locations. – If you’re going to shop in person, don’t buy from locations that aren’t trusted locations. You’ll see a lot of people who are selling things at discounted prices, and things like that, but not only do you run the risk of getting poor quality merchandise, but if you use a card, that is asking for trouble. If you shop online, make sure it’s from a trusted website. No store should need personal information, like your Social Security number, to complete a transaction.

Be smart, be safe, and have fun when you shop this holiday season! Use that common sense, and you’ll be fine.