Police Scotland - Safer Shopping

Date Posted: 4th of December 2018

Continuing in a series of articles, Police Scotland would like to share some simple advice to our readers in relation to remaining safe and secure over the festive period. This is the time of year where everybody wants to spend time with their loved ones and enjoy the season without having to worry about reporting an incident to the Police. Therefore, these articles will cover topics such as Home Security, Safer Shopping, Personal Safety and Online Shopping.
In the third of the four articles, we will be looking at ‘Safer Shopping’.
This is the time of year where most of us are heading to the High Street for gifts and presents over the Christmas period. As you know, the retail stores will be extremely busy with like-minded shoppers over the coming weeks which is the perfect storm of opportune pick pockets.
Therefore, if you follow some simple tips whilst out shopping for the ideal gift for your loved ones. The only stress you should feel is ensuring you’ve got the right gift!
Most of us, when we shop, have to take money from our accounts using ATM’s (Automatic Teller Machine). Be wary when doing this as there has been incidents of ATM machines being tampered with. Crooks have devised a system which is placed on the ATM which can scan you card and capture your PIN (Personal Identification Number). This is done by the use of simple electronics and a camera.
When you have to use an ATM, consider using one that is located within or attached to a Bank or Building Society as these are checked regularly. Next, scan the facia of the ATM to see if there are any unusual objects placed either on the device or within the card slot. ATM’s are designed to be streamlined, flat and angular where a quick scan would pick up any attached devices. If you are unsure or suspicious, report it to either the store or branch manager.
If you are happy that the ATM is safe to use, always be vigilant in relation to your surroundings. Ensure that no-one is right at your back or looking over your shoulder. Another tip is to shield the ATM keypad with your hand whilst typing in your PIN. When you collect your money, ensure you place it immediately within your purse, wallet or bag ensuring that it is secure. Don’t walk away counting the money in public as this will attract attention! Banks and Building societies should provide private galleries for you to check your money and paperwork securely prior to leaving the branch.
Always be vigilant in relation to your cash and bank cards and only carry what you need.

Now that you are ready to shop, ensure that you know where your bag, wallet or purse is. Try and keep them in hard to reach pockets or bags. A good tip would be to place your wallet in your front pocket or if you have a handbag, place it over your shoulder and to the front of your body, ensuring that it remains visible to yourself. Wallet or purse chains are becoming more popular where it can be secured to either clothing or handbags. Another popular item would be small ‘purse’ bells which are very inexpensive to buy.
If you are in a shop, try and remain vigilant whilst browsing. It is very common for someone to focus on their potential purchase, leaving their personal belongings vulnerable. Shop staff have been trained to be attentive at all times and if you have any concerns, please contact a member of staff.
Shopping, especially at this time of year, can be extremely tiring and there is no doubt, you will be tempted to stop for a quick snack or refreshment whilst you are in a high street or shopping centre.
If you do decide to go for a tea, coffee and a lovely slice of cake. Again, be vigilant regarding your surroundings and place your bags in hard to reach places which you can an eye on. Avoid leaving shopping trolleys with your belongings unattended at all costs and again, ensure your wallet, purse or bag is secured. A good tip here would be to place your bags under your table, securing them with the front leg of your chair. If you are in a large retail store which offers café facilities. Check to see if they have any storage facilities available for customers.
As you know. Most café’s, bars, high streets and shopping centres will provide Wi-Fi ‘Hot Spots’ which are provided free of charge to attract your custom. Although, there are no problems in using them whilst taking a break, I would like to throw in a word of caution. Most registered Wi-Fi networks should be password protected and comply with strict security regulations for your personal security and safety. As a result, I would always check with the establishment or a member of staff in relation to their login details. Unfortunately, it has been known for scammers to create ‘Free’ Wi-Fi hotspots in busy public areas, making you believe that you are logged in to a legitimate service, in order for your personal details to be obtained.
If you have to use any of these services. I would suggest that you avoid logging into sensitive online accounts and rely on your 3g or 4g network which is much more secure.
For more information about safer shopping and other topics over this festive period, please join us at;
Thanks for reading and have a safe and secure Christmas.

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