Jennifer Lough

Nov 19 2014

Tips to Protect Yourself While Holiday Shopping

Holiday Shopping Tips

This season, while you’re focused on holiday deals, thieves are looking for holiday steals. Protect yourself while holiday shopping with the following tips:

Protect Yourself While Shopping in Stores

Only take the necessities on your shopping trips. If possible, avoid taking a purse or wallet with you, so if anything is lost or stolen, it’s limited to a few items. Thieves often sit in parking lots looking for victims. Be alert to your surroundings, and park in a well-lit area as close to the storefront as possible. Avoid parking by vans, trucks with toppers, or vehicles with darkly tinted windows. Don’t leave items in plain view and put purchases and valuables in the trunk of your car so they are not visible to thieves.

Don’t make yourself an easy target by being distracted while talking on the phone, listening to music, etc. Have your keys in hand as you walk to your car so you are not fumbling to find them, and never leave your purse in a cart or on top of your vehicle as you are loading your purchases. All these things make you seem like an easy target to thieves looking to steal your holiday gifts, and your identity.

Protect Yourself While Shopping Online

Always perform due diligence when sending sensitive information over the Internet by making sure the website you’re using is legitimate and has adequate security measures. Sometimes malicious websites may look legitimate but the URL may be misspelled or have a different domain ending in .net versus .com, etc. Make sure you are using the latest version of a web browser and your online security software is up-to-date for the highest level of security.

If you are going to do a lot of online shopping this season, you may want to look into purchasing a Hills Bank Shop Locally Visa® Gift Card so you are not using your credit or debit card to make purchases. Even if your computer has been infected with malicious code, thieves won’t have your credit or debit card number. Also, be sure to keep record of online transactions, including product description, price, and receipts, then compare them with your account statements to make sure there are no unauthorized charges.

Even after your holiday gifts are in the house, you still need to protect them. Don’t leave your house unlocked, even for a short amount of time. Leave a few lights, the TV, or a radio on when you’re not home, and have motion lights installed outside the house. Never tempt thieves by leaving large displays of gifts within sight of windows or doors in your home.

Finally, if you are traveling for the holidays, have a trusted neighbor or friend pick up your mail and newspapers so it’s not obvious to thieves you are not home. AND…if travels are in your holiday plans, don’t mention travel dates on social media sites. Criminals are resourceful and could find out no one is home even if you have done everything to make it appear like someone is.

Keeping these tips in mind will help keep the holiday season merry and bright!

Jennifer Lough

About Jennifer Lough

Jennifer Lough is a Vice President and Branch Manager at Hills Bank’s Coralville location and University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics location. She has been at Hills Bank since 2000 helping customers with checking, savings, and loan needs. Jennifer has 20+ years of experience in the banking industry. Her joys in life are her two sons, her husband Brian, returning to her family’s farm, and exercising. She can be reached at

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