Black Friday, that one day of the year has arrived where throngs of people get up early, line up at the locked doors of shopping centers and stores and rush around to find great deals on merchandise.
While this time of year is a dream come true for those looking for discounted items, it can also turn into a nightmare when battling frenzied crowds, traffic and thieves.
Here are some Black Friday shopping tips that may help keep you safe as you search for that perfect sale item.
According to a survey by the Identity Theft Resource Center, 87 percent of Americans who have shopped or made a bank transaction online are concerned about identity theft. Yet, data shows that most identity theft still occurs in everyday, offline ways, like having your wallet stolen.
Be aware of what's going on around you while shopping. The person standing a little too close behind you in line at the checkout may not just be in a hurry; he or she may be trying to peep over your shoulder to catch a credit card or Personal Identification Number (PIN).
Leave your Social Security card at home or in a secure place; never carry it with you while shopping.
Never permit a store clerk to take your credit card out of your direct line of sight.
Carry only the credit cards you absolutely need, and make sure you have a list of the account numbers, PINs and customer service phone numbers in a safe place at home. That way, if your wallet is lost or stolen, you'll be able to quickly notify the card companies.
Keep cash and credit cards in separate pockets.
Other thieves, not just the ones out for your identity, will be out in full force on Black Friday, as well. To help deter these wrong-doers, pay special attention to your wallet and purse.
Keep the wallet in your front pant or jacket pocket.
n Purses should be kept close to your body and not dangling. If you must take a purse, make it a harness type that is worn over your body and can be covered with a jacket. Do not leave your purse unattended at any time.
It's best that you leave a purse at home, but if you must take one and you cannot carry it in the recommended way, loop the shopping cart seat belt through the handles of your purse several times and lock it closed. Then, place the purse at the bottom of the shopping cart.
Don't go alone and if you must shop at night, park your car in a well-lit area, and remember where you parked (so you don't look like you're lost and an easy mark).
Don't overburden yourself with too many bags or packages, especially if you need to enter darkened parking lots or areas.
Don't leave tempting items like bags of merchandise or wrapped packages in plain view within your vehicle. Stow them in the trunk or somewhere else out of sight.
Park in well-lit areas near entrances or near shopping cart return areas so you can return the shopping cart without going across the parking lot.
Visually scan the area around you before exiting the vehicle and as you head toward the entrance. When returning to the vehicle, have your keys in hand, look inside the vehicle before entering, lock the doors once inside, and then leave.
Over the past few years, the number of injuries occurring in parking lots and stores has increased. Pay close attention to the mood of the crowd and surroundings. The desire to get a good deal has driven crowds to become unruly. If the crowd gets out of hand, for your personal safety, it may be better to walk away.
Always have a plan. You always need to have your plan/map of where you are going next and what you are getting, do not stray from that plan or you won't make it to all of your stores in time and run the risk of being in a hurry in lots of traffic, which could result in a car accident.
Let a family member or friend that is not out shopping know about your plan and check in at each stopping point.
Above all else, use good judgement. Is that sale really worth the hassle and possible risk factors? If not, then move onto the one that is and limit your time out. The less contact you have with crowds of people, the better your chances are of having a pleasant shopping experience.
Follow these Black Friday shopping tips for the safest, least stressful shopping day possible.