Food and football will likely be top priorities for many on Thanksgiving, but safety and security should be top of mind for anyone heading out for holiday shopping during the long holiday weekend.

This time of year brings with it concerns for safety and security. Big crowds and extended store hours create distractions that can make you a prime target for crooks looking to steal your money, your merchandise or even your identity. It’s important to stay alert to protect yourself, your valuables and your personal information.

Here are several safe shopping tips I’d like to remind you of as the holiday season gets underway:

  • A single shopper is the best target for theft. Always shop with a friend or relative.
  • Tell someone where you’re shopping and what time to expect you to return. They should also know what you’re wearing and driving.
  • Keep cash in your front pocket rather than in a purse or wallet. This makes it much more difficult for a pick-pocket to remove. Carry car keys in a pants or jacket pocket. If your purse is stolen, you’ll still be able to drive home.
  • If you feel uneasy returning to your vehicle alone, find a security guard and ask them to walk you to your car.

It’s easy to get distracted during this time of year with all of the comings and goings of the holidays. Busy holiday shoppers can become careless and vulnerable to financial fraud crimes.

Follow these tips to help protect your credit card information from falling into the wrong hands.

  • Keep a close watch on your credit card every time you use it. Get it back as quickly as possible.
  • Never write your PIN on your credit card.
  • Never leave your credit cards or receipts lying around.
  • Shield your credit card number so that others around you can’t copy it or shoot a picture of it with a smartphone or other camera.
  • Only carry credit cards that you absolutely need.
  • Shred any documents with your credit card number on it.

To report any suspicious activity in or around a store, call 911. To report fraudulent financial activity, contact the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department at 803-785-8230.